What is Rotary?


In 1905, Attorney Paul P. Harris, who wanted to create a professional group with the same friendly spirit he felt in the small towns of his youth, held Rotary’s first meeting in downtown Chicago. The members decided to call the new club “Rotary” after the practice of rotating meeting locations.

Today, there are 1.2 million Rotarians in 34,000 clubs assisting humanity worldwide. This network of clubs makes up Rotary International.

Rotary joins men and women from all continents, cultures and occupations who exchange their ideas, share their diverse perspectives and apply their expertise to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Rotarians take action to bring positive, lasting change to their communities and around the world. Our most successful and sustainable projects and activities include:



Today, 42 million people are displaced by armed conflict or persecution. Through our partnerships with several leading universities, Rotary Peace Fellows develop the skills to strengthen peace efforts, train local leaders to prevent and mediate conflict, and support long-term peace building in areas affected by conflict. We provide up to 100 peace fellowships per year at Rotary Peace Centers.


More than 100 million people are pushed into poverty each year because of medical costs. We aim to improve and expand access to low-cost and free health care in underdeveloped areas. Our members educate and mobilize communities to help prevent the spread of major diseases such as polio, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Many of our projects ensure that medical training facilities are located where the workforce lives.


More than 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. At least 3,000 children die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water. Our projects give communities the ability to develop and maintain sustainable water and sanitation systems and support studies related to water and sanitation.


At least 7 million children under the age of five die each year due to malnutrition, poor health care, and inadequate sanitation. To help reduce this rate, we provide immunizations and antibiotics to babies, improve access to essential medical services, and support trained health care providers for mothers and their children. Our projects ensure sustainability by empowering the local community to take ownership of health care training programs.


Sixty-seven million children worldwide have no access to education and more than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy.


Nearly 1.4 billion employed people live on less than $1.25 a day. We carry out service projects that enhance economic and community development and develop opportunities for decent and productive work for young and old. We also help strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities.



As Rotary members, we foster fellowship and global understanding. We build lifelong relationships based on ethics and integrity. Speaking with clarity and conviction, we honor our commitments and celebrate diversity.

Rotarians are visionaries, upbeat and hopeful, who take action to find lasting solutions to systemic problems at home and abroad with enthusiasm and compassion.

To learn more about Rotary International click here to visit the website.