Posted by Pete Leenhouts on Dec 26, 2018
What Do Rotarians Do? We work together to solve complicated problems by combining our individual expertise and effort, and by using the money we donate to our Foundation, to accomplish change around the world.  We fund 70 million dollars in grants each year around the world, from small local grants to large, complicated ones focused on resolving some of the world’s most intractable problems..  

Rotarians are oriented towards action to take on some of the world’s toughest challenges. We fund grants to accomplish that change. Grants respond to needs, bring service project ideas to life, and enable Rotarians and others to accomplish the change desired.


Rotary grants are focused on six areas to build international relationships, improve lives, and create a better world to support our peace efforts and end polio forever. Those six areas include peace and conflict resolution, fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; and growing local economies.   


Very broadly speaking, there are two types of grants: local grants, which are employed to target local challenges, and global grants, which are used to support large international activities within the six areas of focus with sustainable, measurable outcomes targeted towards what the supported community needs.


Global grants, which are sustainable endeavors that align with one of Rotary’s areas of focus and which are designed in cooperation with the community to address a real need, can fund humanitarian projects, scholarships for graduate-level academic studies, and vocational training teams, which are groups of professionals who travel abroad either to teach local professionals about their field or to learn more about it themselves.  Here are a few examples:

  • Our Rotary Club, led by member John Barrett, worked with a club in Texas, and another in Honduras, supported by a global grant and several partner organizations, facilitated a humanitarian project to dig fresh water wells in rural Honduras and help with the construction of water storage and distribution systems for 25 rural villages. The multi-year project was completed in mid-2018.  

  • After working at a hospital in South Africa during medical school, German-born Sven Jungmann realized he wanted to make an impact on a larger scale, specifically through connecting medicine and technology. Rotary has helped him on his way, first through eight weeks working with a Rotary-sponsored nongovernmental organization in Kenya, then with a Rotary global grant scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. Jungmann now works full time as a doctor in Berlin and is part of several projects dealing with the intersection of medicine and computer innovation. He was named one of Germany’s 100 smartest innovators of 2017 by a leading German business publication for his work in health care digitization.

  • District 5500 (Arizona) worked with a Rotary Club in Kiwatule, Uganda, to improve prenatal diagnostic capabilities in rural communities and provide better nutrition for expectant mothers. A combination global grant provided humanitarian supplies for Uganda’s Rotary Family Health Days and a vocational training team for health care workers at the health camps. The vocational training team trained 23 nurses, midwives, and other health care practitioners to use ultrasound scanning devices to diagnose abnormalities in pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions.


The Rotary Foundation funds over 70 million dollars spread across 1,100 such grants during an average year.


The criteria used by The Rotary Foundation to evaluate and fund global grants are quite stringent. This is to ensure the funds donated by individual Rotarians are used in the most effective manner possible to achieve the greatest possible impact. To be approved, an application must describe in detail how the proposal aligns with one of the six Rotary Areas of Focus, the measurable goals of the project, how the project, scholarship, or vocational training team Is sustainable for long-term success after the global grant funds have been spent; responds to real community needs; actively involves Rotarians and community members; and meets the additional eligibility requirements required by The Rotary Foundation.


The Rotary Annual Report is an excellent summary of what Rotarians are accomplishing through their work, funded by global grants, to make the world a better place.   


WDX-S17. Global Grants   



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