The Rotary Foundation, President’s charity for 2019-20

Michael has chosen the Rotary Foundation as his charity for his year as club president.

Rotary International is a worldwide organisation with about 1.2 m members. The Rotary Foundation is our charity and was founded in 1917 with the aim of Doing Good in the World. It supports many of the huge range of projects and activities that Rotary clubs are engaged in worldwide.

The ways in which the charity’s funds are spent are as diverse and varied as the ways in which Rotarians help their communities and mankind in general. High on the list of Rotary priorities is education and many local clubs support local schools with books and dictionaries. Clubs across our Rotary District often link the water and education areas of focus in their support of international schools, by providing clean water, toilets and sanitation to schools and their neighbouring communities. Others support schools with books, furniture, computers or with meals to help children who might not receive proper meals at home. While Oxford Spires Rotary hasn’t led on any of these projects, we’ve been enthusiastic supporters of projects to install toilets in schools in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Nepal; lunch clubs in schools in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda; water tanks and water harvesting systems; books, chairs and desks.

The Rotary Foundation also provides grants for local projects and over the last few years Oxford Spires Rotary has been awarded grants for projects with Vale House Nursing Home, Aspire and Restore – all well-established and well-respected Oxford charities.

The Rotary Foundation runs one of the largest privately funded scholarship programmes. Started in 1947 to increase understanding of different countries, the programme now focuses on overseas graduate study by young people who have degree courses and career plans that fit under one or more of our Areas of Focus. Our District funds one scholarship each year, and for the last few years this has been for someone from a low to middle income country to come to one of the universities in our district. We are lucky enough to host a large number of Rotary Scholars each year in our district, funded by clubs and districts in their home countries. Most of them study at Oxford University and our club usually hosts two scholars each year. Read more about the scholars programme at

Oxford Spires Rotary has supported our district’s Vocational Training Team. Since 2014 this team has been visiting two hospitals and the associated nursing schools in north east Uganda. The team members are midwives, nurses and doctors, mostly non-Rotarians living in our Rotary District, and they provide training in emergency birth skills and in paediatric care. The focus for the visits is on training the student nurses and midwives but also to support the tutors so that they can continue to provide a higher quality of training, and so in turn improve the care for mothers and children in these rural communities. Read more about the Emergency Birth Skills Vocational Training Team programme on the Distirct 1090 Rotary Foundation webpages.


The Rotary Foundation’s biggest worldwide project has been to rid the whole world of Polio. This enormous project has been led by Rotary since the mid 1980s, now in partnership with the other members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative: the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Centers for Disease Control, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the 1980s there were 350,000 cases per year, across many countries. Now we just have two countries with endemic cases of wild polio virus: Afghanistan and Pakistan, and around 80 cases so far in 2019.

Grants from the Rotary Foundation supplement fundraising from Rotary clubs and districts. The project ideas come from Rotarians working in partnership with the beneficiary communities, identifying the need and planning sustainable projects. The larger projects are run by multiple Rotary clubs across multiple countries, encouraging cooperation between clubs across the globe.

Rotary is committed to bringing peace to the world and funds six Rotary Peace Centres at universities in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Japan, USA and Thailand. 100 Rotary Peace Fellowships are awarded each year and we now have over 1,000 Rotary Peace Fellows working in all continents, in all aspects of peace building, mediation, communications and logistics.