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Global Service


We create programs that emphasize leadership through local and global service.

Members of the first Interact club form the letter "I" with members of their sponsor club in 1962.

1962: Interact - a program for youth

The first Interact club is certified on 5 November, 1962 at Melbourne High School, in Florida, USA. Interact empowers students in intermediate and secondary school to learn leadership skills.

1965: Grants support service projects

The Foundation begins supporting club and district projects with matching grants, the first regular program to fund these service efforts.

Carlos Canseco
Listen to Carlos Canseco, 1984-85 RI president, describe the value of the matching grants program in an interview from 1994.

Group Study Exchange team members from Australia visit the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) facility near Geneva, Switzerland. circa 1967.

1965: Group Study Exchange

Through the Group Study Exchange program, teams of young business professionals visit each others countries to learn their culture and gain business insights. Today the tradition continues through vocational training teams.

1968: Rotaract targets young adults

Rotary certifies its first Rotaract club at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the U.S. Rotaract is created as a program for college-age students and young professional, but in 2019 Rotaract clubs are redefined as a unique type of membership in Rotary.

Members of the first Rotaract club at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA, plant a tree with members of the Rotary Club of Charlotte in 1968.

Participants at a 2022 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event in Missouri, USA, took part in a simulated service project, team building exercises, and an introduction to Rotary’s areas of focus.

1971: Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)

Rotary adopts the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Events teach secondary school students through young professionals leadership, communication, and problem solving skills.

1975: Rotary Youth Exchange

Rotary clubs have been facilitating student exchanges since the 1920s. In 1975, Rotary recognizes Rotary Youth Exchange as an official program administered by clubs and districts.

Rotary Youth Exchange participants share their experiences at the 2015 Rotary Convention in Brazil.

Clem Renouf
Listen to 1978-79 RI President Clem Renouf announce the 3-H program at the 1978 convention in Tokyo: “A new program will be launched during this coming year . . . which will bring a new dimension to our service activities. It will be known as the Health, Hunger and Humanity program.”

1978: Health, Hunger and Humanity grants

Rotary develops a program to improve health, alleviate hunger, and enhance human and social development. Rotary members use the grants to create access to clean drinking water, support literacy programs, provide medical care, and more — setting the stage for today’s global grants.

1979: Rotary International fights polio

A multi-year grant project to immunize children in the Philippines launches Rotary in the fight to eradicate polio.

James L. Bomar Jr.
On 29 September 1979, RI President James L. Bomar Jr. ceremonially launched the project in the Philippines by administering oral polio vaccine to a child in Guadalupe Viejo in metropolitan Manila. Listen to him recount the experience in an interview from 1991.

Explore more of Rotary's history