Start a new service project today!

By Chelsea Mertz and Rebecca Hirschfeld, Rotary Service staff

Does your club want to try a new type of service project or want to find a project in another region to partner on and are not sure where to start?

The Project Lifecycle Kit tools can help with all your service project needs. These online resources guide your project from inception to implementation while also facilitating connections with other Rotarians around the world. Rotary is unique in that service means more than just helping others. We’re also about forming valuable partnerships that make projects more sustainable and in turn help foster more peaceful communities. So which tools comprise the Project Lifecycle Kit?

Through Discussion Groups, Rotarians have access to a plethora of information from other Rotary members who provide valuable support during the planning phases of a project. Use these groups to pose questions to other members and tap into their expertise, experience, and advice. If you are starting a project in one of our areas of focus, you can take advantage of our Cadre of Technical Advisors moderated groups.

For example, the Water and Sanitation Group gives you the opportunity to receive advice from subject matter experts, as well as members of our Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag).

A few recent enhancements to Rotary Ideas makes finding a project partner easier than ever before! A Google Translate option is now available on each project page, expanding the options for partnering beyond the boundaries of language. You can now search for projects by filtering by contribution type (volunteers, partnerships, online contributions, and materials), making it easier to find the types of projects you want to support.

For example, the Water For Life Project in Egypt is looking for global grant partner to help provide safe and clean water to families living in poverty.

Remember to continue to share your success stories on Rotary Showcase, recently updated to allow you to tag Rotarian Action Groups and Rotary Community Corps as project partners. Identifying all of your Rotary project partners ensures that your good work is shared as accurately as possible within our communities and the world.

For example, through a global grant, the Rotary Club of San Pedro South in the Philippines installed a solar powered potable water treatment system at a local elementary school benefiting 1100 students. The project included a deep well with a submersible pump powered by a solar panel. The system can produce up to 2000 liters per hour when the solar panel is at its peak capacity. To manage project operations and maintenance, including how to share the potable water with the surrounding community, the Cuyab Rotary Community Corps (RCC) was formed with officers from the school faculty, the parent teacher association and local government. The RCC will decide how the water will be shared with the nearby community, its price, schedule and mechanics.

As always, if you have any questions regarding these tools, please feel free to contact social@rotary.org for assistance.

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Access to technology prepares students for innovative careers

By Andrea Paolo Rossi and Oliviero Zondini, Rotary Club of Cesena in Italy and global grant project leads

Our Rotary Club of Cesena is big with more than 100 members who represent the rich culture and strengths of our region. The local economy in Cesena is centered around agriculture and the manufacturing industry, in particular mechanics, manufacturing, and construction equipment. These companies must remain innovative to compete in the global market. Our region has high unemployment rates among youth coupled with manufacturing companies can’t find skilled workers.

To address this concern, we decided to focus on educating local high school students about the skills they need to establish a career in the manufacturing industry. The project aimed to create a 3D print lab for the Technical School. We partnered with FabLab Romagna to provide training for the students. FabLab Romagna, headquartered conveniently near the school, works with the international network of fab labs, small-scale workshops offering personal digital fabrication. Fab labs began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) to provide access to modern innovation technologies.

The project was presented in September 2014 at the 8th Multi-Club Workshop in Ischia, where we met Serbian Rotarians who presented a project with similar characteristics. A partnership was formed from which two global grants were born with the Rotary Club of Cesena and Rotary Club of Beograd-Skadarlija each serving as the local host for their respective project and as the international partner supporting each other’s efforts.

In May 2015, our club’s project was presented to local authorities and citizens of Cesena during the Rotary Romagna Festival. Twelve clubs from our district committed to contribute their time and service to the project. Our artisan association, Confartigianato, supported the project by providing needed consumable materials for the lab.

The Rotary Foundation approved our global grant in June 2016, and in February 2017 the equipment was officially handed over to the school with a public ceremony in which students and teachers presented about their experiences using the fab lab. Our Serbian partners also attended this event.

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The project, valued at $60,650 USD, is now in full swing. The training courses held with FabLab Romagna allow students of different ages and classes to work together to develop a project under the supervision of a fab lab technician. The 3D printers are self- assembled with electronic and mechanical components. Course participants learn to manage the entire supply chain, from starting the project with computer graphics through to the creation of the final product.  The students themselves then become teachers to other students. Students also participate in educational trainings at the local manufacturing companies.

The project will continue throughout the 2017-18 school year, after which the Technical School will have a full 3D printing laboratory and technical expertise to continue training students in an increasing technologically-demanding world of mechanics. But what is most important, these students will learn a method of work that will make them leaders of a changing global industry.

Attend the 2017 Multi-Club Workshop in London, England. The 11th annual event will take place 6-10 September. Learn more about the workshop and visit their website for more information! 

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How my first trip to Africa changed my life

By Shapreka Clarke, President of Rotaract Club of Eleuthera in the Bahamas

After eighteen hours of flying from the Bahamas, I finally arrived in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on 19 October, 2016, to participate in the 11th West Africa Project Fair.  As I stepped foot on African soil for the first time, I did not know the adventure that was ahead of me, the lasting friendships I would make or how my life would forever be changed.  That first moment getting off the plane, I remember being very excited and a little nervous.

img_7080Through the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati in California, I was able to embark on this journey with 34 fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors from the United States and the Bahamas.  While in Port Harcourt, we participated in the project fair and community service projects which included visiting a community health clinic which provided free medications and a local school where we handed out back packs to students.  We visited historic sites and tried lots and lots of local food.

The West Africa Project Fair, the primary purpose of our trip, gave our group an opportunity to discover the various projects Rotarians across Africa are undertaking.  It also allowed us to form partnerships with projects we were interested in supporting.  While at the fair, I presented with Rotaractors and Rotarians from the Bahamas, California, and Yenagoa, Nigeria, about our joint Telemedicine Project.  Telemedicine allows doctors from California to connect with doctors in underserved areas to consult on diagnoses and treatment plans.  Despite the distance, doctors have consistent access to mentors and educational opportunities through telemedicine.  Our booth raised awareness about the project and encouraged clubs across Africa to participate while forming new partnerships with clubs in the United States.

One of the most memorable days of the trip was World Polio Day.  Our group was joined by local Rotarians and Rotaractors as we started activities early in the morning with a 1 kilometer walk through the Port Harcourt community.  This walk gave us an opportunity to see more of the community while also raising awareness about polio.  Para soccer players also accompanied us on the walk and we attended a para Soccer game at the end of the day.  Para soccer serves as a global employment mechanism for people with disabilities.  Watching these men play soccer despite their disabilities was truly inspiring.

After the walk we visited polio immunization health centers across Port Harcourt where we administered polio immunization drops to children under five years of age.  To be able to immunize a child and help Nigeria get one step closer to eradicating polio was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

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This trip allowed me to better understand how important Rotary is in other parts of the world.  I was given an opportunity to engage in field work in the local communities, create strong friendships with the West African Rotarians and Rotaractors, and participate in hands-on humanitarian and health related work.  It was truly a life changing opportunity.

The 2017 West Africa Project Fair will be hosted in Accra, Ghana, 4-11 October 2017. For more information, visit www.rotarywestafricaprojectfair.org; contact registration@rotarywestafricaprojectfair.org to register.

A new approach to Rotary Club meetings

By Helen Reisler and Andreas Runggatscher, members of the Rotary Club of New York

Our club, the Rotary Club of New York has always been notable for its international flavor and association with the United Nations. The club played an essential role in building support during the UN’s formidable years, and in soliciting New York City for its permanent headquarters.

Thousands of Rotarians from around the world have visited the Rotary Club of New York’s luncheon meetings over the past 107 years. In fact, one of the very first flag exchanges between clubs from different countries took place at the club’s meeting. The club also boasts a substantial list of UN Ambassadors that are honorary members of Rotary. Paul Harris even dubbed our club the “Host Club of America!”

Because of this history, the Rotary Club of New York and its foundation hosts a monthly international breakfast meeting at the United Nations, in collaboration with the Rotarian Action Group for Peace and the Rotaract Club of New York at the UN. All Rotarians and guests are invited to attend these meetings.

The meetings are informative and business casual, beginning with a delicious breakfast buffet mixed with fellowship and networking. The horseshoe arrangement of the tables gives the 40 to 60 attendees full view of each other, as well as of the speakers, and encourages more participation in the questions and answers segment. This past August, we started live broadcasting these monthly gatherings. You can view recordings of previous meetings online. Our goal is to connect more Rotarians from around the world and create a stronger Rotary family.

These meetings provide an opportunity for Rotarians to stay informed about the United Nation’s programs, and to discuss related topics with UN officials and representatives of its member states. The topics are most often related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the ultimate goal of fostering international peace and understanding.

The monthly meetings are currently moderated by Past District Governor and Rotary International Representative to the United Nations, Helen Reisler, along with the Ambassador of South Korea, Hahn Choong-Hee.

Some recent panel speakers include:

  • Reza Hossaini, Director of Polio Eradication at UNICEF
  • Madame Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary of the UN and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women
  • Prabha Sankaranarayan, CEO of Mediators Beyond Borders International
  • E. Mr. Gholam Ali Khoshroo, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN
  • Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN

As a result of these meetings, the Rotary Club of New York has attracted new members, developed partnerships with other NGOs, involved more Rotaractors into our activities, created an international awareness of Rotary’s relationship with the UN and the SDGs, and seen renewed enthusiasm for Rotary and service amongst our members.

Visit our website for information on our next meeting, and join in on the live broadcast!

Make connections at the Colombia Project Fair

By Past District Governor Sonia Uribe, District 4271; Chair of the Colombia Project Fair

We are very pleased to invite you to the Colombia Project Fair on 3 -5 February 2017. Our event will be hosted in Cartagena de Indias, the most beautiful city in the Caribbean. Clubs from Districts 4271 and 4281 will be exhibiting service projects seeking international support. Come experience magical Cartagena, learn about our service efforts, and build lifelong friendships within the Rotary family.

Event information and registration is available on our website, you can find additional information on our Facebook page. We assure you that not only will you enjoy the warm weather and the kind people of Colombia, but you will fall in love with this country. We hope you join us!

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Project fairs are regional events hosted by Rotary districts to encourage international friendship and collaboration. Fairs give Rotary clubs a chance to showcase their service efforts to potential global partners, and they give international visitors the chance to find a project that meets their club’s goals. Find information on all upcoming fairs,  including dates, location, program, and registration.

Ethical Dilemma Discussion: what would you do?

Your club is formalizing a partnership with a local organization. Since the organization’s work aligns well the work of your club and Rotary, the partnership is highly beneficial. A member of your club with experience working with the organization is very passionate about the partnership. As you spearhead the relationship, the club member is constantly monitoring partnership progress. Although you are doing as much as you can, the club member expects you to do a lot more and is not satisfied with how things are moving along. The member has even made calls to the organization to check on the progress, and your partnership liaisons from the organization have complained that the member is being pushy. As this is a very important partnership, you want to maintain your club’s image and ensure the partnership develops into a successful one.

While you appreciate your fellow member’s passion, what would you do?

Strengthening clubs through local partnerships

By Quentin Wodon, Author of the Rotarian Economist Blog, President of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and Lead Economist at the World Bank

Most Rotarians are professionals with deep skills in their area of expertise, yet many club service projects do not make systematic use of their members’ expertise. We see exceptions when Rotarians who are passionate and knowledgeable about a particular topic implement global grants. But in terms of the service work, my impression is that the great initiatives we undertake are limited in impact simply because they may not be truly strategic or may not make full use of Rotarians’ areas of expertise.

One solution to increase the impact of our service work is the concept of Pro Bono Rotarian Teams. On 1 July, my club launched partnerships with a half dozen local nonprofits in our community as part of a pro bono initiative. These partnerships bring four benefits: better service opportunities for members and greater impact in the community; more visibility for our partners and our club; attracting new members; and strengthening teams. Let me briefly explain these four benefits in case they may inspire other clubs to adopt a similar model:

Better service opportunities and larger impact: Rotarians in our club, as elsewhere, are professionals and/or business leaders. We are building on these skills by organizing pro bono strategic advising with small teams of 4-5 individuals (both Rotarians and non-Rotarians) that support local nonprofits in solving issues they face. This makes our club more interesting for our members in terms of the service opportunities we provide, and it also increases the impact that we have in the community because our engagement becomes more strategic.

More visibility for our partners and our club: Higher visibility is achieved in several ways. First, we are sharing our work on social media using the main community blog, The Hill is Home. We publish posts not directly about our club, but about the great work of our nonprofit partners and the fact that we are working with them. We also started writing short articles about our partner nonprofits in the main monthly community magazine.

New members: Our club has been losing members for several years, but since 1 July, we increased our membership by 50% from 18 to 27. Our pro bono initiative and our partnerships with local nonprofits is helping us recruit new members.

Stronger service teams: Our pro bono teams work for a period of three months with local nonprofits, and they include both Rotarians and non-Rotarians. We hope that some of the non-Rotarians working with the pro bono teams will become Rotarians, but this is not the main goal of combining members and others in our teams. The main goal is to build strong teams and benefit from the expertise of friends and colleagues who are ready to help, but may not be interested in Rotary. Think of this as our own model for a Rotary Community Corps, whereby we all work together to support and strengthen great local nonprofits.

There are multiple ways for Rotary clubs to partner with local nonprofits in a strategic way, and some clubs have a long history in doing so. Our new model emphasizing pro bono consulting teams working closely with local nonprofits may not be the right model for all clubs, but it does appear to be working for us, and it ties in nicely with our efforts at improving our public image and recruiting new members. If you would like to know more about our new model, please do not hesitate to post send me an email through the contact me page of my blog at The Rotarian Economist.

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Experience culture, friendship and service in El Salvador at the 2017 Uniendo America Project Fair

By Hector D. Castro, District 4240; Advisor to the Uniendo America Organizing Committee

In its 24th edition, the Uniendo America project fair returns to beautiful El Salvador on 26-28 January of 2017. Since 1994, Districts 4240 & 4250 (Central America, Belize & Panamá) have hosted the fair in different countries. This regional event is an excellent opportunity for Central American Rotarians to present projects to fellow Rotarians from the United States, Canada & other countries who are looking for international service projects and partners on behalf of their clubs and districts.

Thanks to Uniendo America, international visitors have learned about more than 2,000 local projects from the region. Meeting face to face at the fair has created lasting relationships and facilitated the implementation of hundreds of proposed projects. This is what Rotary is all about: creating good will and understanding through international partnerships.

Uniendo America 2017 will kick off on the afternoon of 26 January with presentations from District International Service Committees and a special message from an envoy of the Rotary Foundation. The fair itself will be inaugurated that evening with a brief ceremony and cocktail party where attendees will start making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

Serious work will begin the following day, 27 January at 9:00 AM with the opening of the exhibitor booths, showcasing excellent opportunities to form partnerships for global and district grants and club projects. That evening, participants will make dinner reservations at any of the fine dining restaurants within the hotel and continue discussions with potential partners met during the fair. Meanwhile, spouses and guests will be offered a tourism tour where they will have an opportunity to explore the rich culture and wonderful sites of El Salvador. We will end that evening with fun disco dancing at the hotel´s night club.

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The last day of the fair, 28 January, will begin at 9:00 AM with round table discussions to learn about successful community development strategies within the six areas of focus, talk about the future of Uniendo America and much more. Optional project tours, sponsored by local clubs, will be available throughout the day. Uniendo America 2017 will end with a spectacular Centennial Carnival on the evening of the 28th where we will celebrate our 100 years of service through the Rotary Foundation.

The Organizing Committee will offer free shuttle transportation from/to the airport on main arrival and departure dates and we can assist attendees with any special arrangements.

Come and enjoy Rotary at its best amidst spectacular sunsets, warm weather, great friends and plenty of international service opportunities. Event information and registration is available online.

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Assist victims of the 2016 Ecuador earthquake

By District Governor Fressia Abad, District 4400 Ecuador 

Dear friends,

It is our pleasure to invite you and your club to attend District 4400’s XII Rotary Project Fair, to be held in Cuenca, Ecuador, on 11-13 November, 2016.

During this three-day event, clubs in Ecuador will exhibit their projects to visiting Rotarians. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the community and the projects looking for assistance. Rotarians will personally meet project contacts and other local Rotarians establishing important partnerships as well as long lasting friendships.

Due to the severe 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador’s Provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas in April 2016, many of this year’s projects will focus on long-term disaster recovery and providing assistance to communities devastated by the disaster.

The beautiful city of Cuenca has become a favorite and appealing retirement spot. Visiting Rotarians will have an opportunity to experience local cultural and artistic treasures including a tour to its historic town center. Exciting and high-end excursions to the Galapagos Islands, Amazonian Jungle, Quito, the Andean Sierra, and Vilcabamba (well known for the long life expectancy of its population) can also be added to attendance at the Fair.

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Please contact the Chair of the XII Project Fair Committee, Past District Governor Manuel Nieto or Assistant Governor Amparo Albuja Izurieta for additional information.  You can also visit our district webpage or register online.

We hope to greet you soon in our country well known for its hospitality.

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Collaborating with partners on sustainable service projects

By Rotary Service Connections Staff

Working with partners can strengthen club and district service projects by ensuring sustainability, providing access to subject-matter experts, and strengthening local networks. Partnering with local, national, and international organizations can help meet the many needs of communities around the world.

Rotary’s service and project partners support Rotarian-led initiatives within the avenues of service and areas of focus. All activities take place at the local level at the discretion of individual clubs and districts. Consider partnering with one of Rotary’s service partners to create a greater impact in your community:

The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) for alleviating hunger and malnutrition

Food banking is a proven solution to two critical global problems: world hunger and food waste. There is enough food to feed the world, but one-third of it is wasted. Food banks rescue perfectly edible and nutritious food before it is wasted and redistribute it to feed hungry people. In most countries, food banks distribute food through a network of community agencies, including school feeding programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS and tuberculosis hospices, elderly care facilities, orphanages, and nongovernmental organizations that provide food to the hungry. Rotary’s service partnership with GFN provides opportunities to work together to create and support food banks around the world. Read the partnership factsheet to learn more.

Peace Corps for promoting peace and enhancing community development

Peace Corps, an independent U.S. federal agency, sends U.S. citizens abroad to help tackle the most pressing needs around the world while promoting better international understanding. Peace Corps Volunteers live and work alongside the people they support to create sustainable change that lives on long after their service. A Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) offers access to local contacts, community development insights, and funding possibilities within a particular community. Involving a PCV in your project will increase its reach, impact, and sustainability. Read the partnership fact sheet.

ShelterBox for disaster relief

ShelterBox is an international aid organization that provides immediate assistance to areas ravaged by disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, flooding, hurricanes, cyclones, tsunamis, or conflict. The project partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox offers opportunities to collaborate in providing emergency shelter and vital supplies to stabilize, protect, and support communities affected by disasters and humanitarian crises. Read the partnership fact sheet.

YSA (Youth Service America) for youth involvement

YSA focuses on the engagement of young people, ages 5-25, as partners in solving the problems of the world by addressing challenges that are stifling economic and human potential, such as: environmental degradation, childhood obesity, hunger, illiteracy, animal welfare, water scarcity, human rights, and communicable diseases. Read the partnership fact sheet.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for literacy

The collaborative relationship between The Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library and RI provides a way for clubs in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia to support early childhood literacy by providing children in their community with a free book every month from birth to age five. Read the partnership fact sheet.

Along with collaborating with like-minded groups, you can make a more successful impact and create stronger service projects by:

  • Inviting representatives from partner organizations to speak at club meetings
  • Utilizing club and district service chairs for help identifying local partners
  • Leveraging Rotary Ideas to find funding and partners for your projects
  • Organizing a Rotary Community Corps to help mobilize a community and ensure local needs are met
  • Collaborating with a Rotarian Action Groupto help conduct a needs assessments, incorporate monitoring and evaluation components, and secure funding.
  • Attending a project fair to make new connections

We hope these resources will help your clubs and district carry out impactful and sustainable initiatives.  Please write to the Rotary Service Connections team with any questions.

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