Club99 in Little Rock partners with Heifer USA to help Small Ag Farmers get a hand up.

Rotary International

Rotary International Little Rock, Arkansas – Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

In honor of Rotary’s Economic and Community Development month, we are featuring the great work of District 6150’s Rotary Club of Little Rock, Arkansas and Heifer International, who have joined strengths and skills to create the “Seeds of Change in the Delta” project.

The Arkansas’s Delta region has struggled to cope with rural poverty. As families search for employment and entrepreneurial opportunity, there has been a growing need for grassroots economic and community development. Through Seeds of Change, District 6150 is spurring community development by connecting rural farmers and urban food markets- providing sustainable livelihoods for the farmers, and greater access to healthy, locally produced food for Arkansas’s consumers.

Seeds of Change began in September 2014, with a Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation. In the year since its inception, the project has provided farmers with business-training workshops including bookkeeping, debt/financing, expense and inventory control, and pricing. Its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network provided over 200 Arkansan households with high-quality produce, while building meaningful connections between producers and consumers.  With headquarters in Little Rock and deep ties to the community, Heifer International is a key partner in District 6150’s efforts.

Ultimately, the Rotary Club of Little Rock wants to expand Seeds of Change to other clubs and districts. Working with Heifer International and Rotary, they have created a video which they are now using to market their program to other clubs, and to recruit new farmers.

Interested in hearing more about the Seeds of Change project? Contact and the Rotary Club of Little Rock for more information. Don’t forget to check out Rotary’s Economic and Community Development resources page to learn about other Rotary projects growing local economies and strengthening the bonds of local communities. If you have an economic or community development project happening, please tell us about it in the comments below.

Updated information has been added to this original post on 3 November 2015.


Rotary Staff Give Back to Evanston

(Left to Right) Melanie Davis, Stephanie Norton (back), Michelle Gasparian, Renee O'Keefe (front), Maura Rogan (back), Nora Beamish-Lannon, John Wahlund

(From left) Melanie Davis, Stephanie Norton, Michelle Gasparian, Renee O’Keefe (front), Maura Rogan (back), Nora Beamish-Lannon, John Wahlund

More than 100 Rotary employees volunteered 316 hours of service during the first Rotary Week of Caring on 14-18 September. Regional Grants Officer Rebeca Mendoza, along with a team of Rotary staff and executive management, organized events with 10 local charities and organizations doing great things here in Evanston. Activities included teaching local youth about the importance of hand washing, maintenance of community gardens, packing food at a food depository, sorting medical supplies, and cleaning a community resource center.

Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator Specialist, Melanie Davis, discusses germs and contact with students.

Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator Specialist Melanie Davis discusses germs and contact with students.

Members of the Regional Leader Support team spent a few hours at Family Focus teaching third, fourth and fifth graders hand washing skills through fun learning activities and a demonstration of how germs are spread.  John Wahlund, the Area of Focus Manager for Disease Prevention and Treatment, joined Regional Leader Support to teach the students.

The Week of Caring activities helped staff boost visibility and influence of Rotary here in Evanston. “We feel fortunate to work for an organization with so many civic and humanitarian-minded colleagues who are eager to give back,” said Rebeca Mendoza.

If you want to give back through a water and sanitation project, join Rotary and the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group for a three part webinar series to assist Rotarians with WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in Schools projects beginning 15 October. You’ll join sector experts and hear about the importance of program efforts, behavior change through hygiene education, and how to engage your community.

What service projects are underway in your region that increase Rotary’s visibility?  Share your stories in the comments below!

Rotarians in India seek to increase number of literate adults

By Kamal Sanghvi, Rotary Public Image coordinator, Zones 4 & 6A 

India has the highest number of illiterate adults at 287 million, which accounts for 37% of the world’s adult illiterate population (Source – Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2013-14: UNESCO). Rotarians in India are tackling this illiteracy problem through two programs.

The first is the “Rotary India Global Dream Each One, Reach One, Teach One” Campaign, an initiative to educate 100,000 illiterate adults, under our Adult Literacy Program. Through the program, 60,000 school children in 17 states act as student volunteer teachers. They are currently spending 30-45 minutes per day teaching illiterate adult learners to read.  To do this, they use a specially designed set of books and other teaching aids, at the low cost of USD1.50 per adult learner.  The books and teaching process were initially developed by the Devi Sansthan of Lucknow (an Indian organization focused on dignity and education) in collaboration with Rotary and have been translated into all major Indian languages.


A student volunteer teacher works with an adult in the Adult Literacy Program.

After the completion of 3 months of learning, the adult neo-literates are ready to take the government aided National Institute of Open Schooling examination, which certifies them as literates or a similar evaluation.  This past August saw approximately 333 adult learners appear to take the examination in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, with the results expected to be shared in January 2016.

The second program is the Rotary India Literacy Mission (RILM). This program is:

  • Training and recognising 5,000 outstanding teachers in primary schools.
  • Establishing 10,000 E-Learning Centers in schools.
  • Educating 100,000 adult non-literates.
  • Sending 100,000 children back to school.
  • Upgrading 1,000 elementary schools to Happy Schools to curtail student dropouts.

Adult literacy is only one component of the comprehensive program developed by RILM. This T-E-A-C-H program seeks to meet literacy and educational goals through teacher support, e-learning, child development, and happy schools.

As an RPIC and Vice-chair of the Rotary India Literacy Mission, I oversee the measures of external and internal public relations and communication channels with a view to establishing Rotary’s image in the field of literacy.  I also consider and approve all the important policy matters and general guidelines relating to the programs, fundraising activities and budget.


Adult learners sit for the examination certifying their literacy.

The reasonable measure of progress of any country is the level of literacy of its citizens.  If we want our children to be well educated and taken good care of, it is important that the parents or adults are educated first. Educating adults gives them the opportunity to make a mark for themselves and gives them a place of dignity in society.

For more information about Rotary India Literacy Mission, visit our website. If you have been involved in an educational and literacy project, please share below!

Develop and promote service projects on

RC%20Monrovia%201Rotarians undertake service projects all over the world to make real, tangible change in people’s lives. Their projects are the furthest thing from “virtual reality!” However, “virtual tools” can be of great help in making service ideas into tangible reality.

In order to create real change in people’s lives, service projects need resources. They need money, materials, human expertise and effort. One club might have the idea while other clubs can bring in the money, the expertise, or the understanding of local needs. How can Rotarians connect all of these needs together?

The internet has provided us with an almost limitless ability to connect with people all over the world. Based on the recent success of crowdsourcing and funding , Rotary developed Rotary Ideas. Ideas is an online crowdsourcing platform where clubs can post projects needing resources and seek contributions from other, like-minded individuals around the globe. Potential contributors can agree to support a project financially, by donating volunteers or materials, or by partnering with the club.

After a project is complete, it’s important to share the results back with other Rotarians and contributors. Rotary clubs around the world accomplish thousands and thousands of service projects every year but it has been hard to see the collective impact of Rotary. Through Rotary Showcase, clubs can post descriptions, pictures and videos of their projects. By sharing their service project with the world, clubs can raise awareness of Rotary within their communities and show their impact.

RC%20Monrovia%202To see these tools in action, look at a recent project done by the Rotary Club of Monrovia, Liberia. In response to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the club created a project on Rotary Ideas to seek partners to aid them as they worked to provide support for Ebola patients and health workers. Rotary Ideas introduced the project to potential contributors who were able to contact the club for more information about contributing. After the project reached it’s first milestone, the club posted an update on Rotary Showcase about their accomplishments. In this example, the club made an ideal use of the online tools on seek resources on Rotary Ideas, and post project successes and milestones on Rotary Showcase.

Do you still have questions about how to use these tools? The Rotary Social team has developed many resources to help you use these two tools. Email for user guides and video tutorials.

How membership and The Rotary Foundation go together

By RRFC Wyn Spiller, Zone 25

Each August, we celebrate membership and reflect on keeping our clubs attractive, engaging and fun. But we should really be celebrating Rotary membership all year long. From providing extraordinary opportunities to make a difference in our local communities and around the world, to the remarkable friendships we form by working together, The Rotary Foundation is a special part of the promise of Rotary. Attractive, engaging, fun…absolutely!

During the last few years, we have been encouraged to share our Rotary stories.  Many times we share a special moment when our hearts were touched, maybe it was when an elderly woman received a wheelchair and was given the gift of mobility for the first time, or seeing clean water pour from a newly constructed well, or maybe it was while working at an orphanage, comforting a little child, and realizing that love is a universal language.

In these moments, we realize that what we get back from Rotary is so much more than we give. These special moments don’t just occur halfway around the world, they occur right here at home, too – and so very often they are connected to our Rotary Foundation.

The Rotary Foundation celebrates members, too – great examples are found in all the Foundation projects featured on Rotary Showcase and in the areas of focus videos.  Members bring more hands to more projects, more leadership to address complex and significant issues, and more ways to create a healthier, more prosperous and hopeful world, and one ultimately filled with peace.

Rotary is such a wonderful gift – let’s each share it with someone new! And then share with them our (and now their) remarkable Rotary Foundation. Our Rotary Foundation, powered by our dollars, our service and our commitment, is sharing the promise of Rotary throughout the world, touching the lives of so many—and one of those lives, of course, is our very own.  Share the magic, share the promise, share The Rotary Foundation!