My dear friends and fellow Rotary leaders,
As we enter Foundation Month, we would like to personally thank each and every one of you who did so much to make World Polio Day such an enormous success.
We broadcast our Global Update on 24 October in multiple time zones around the world, reaching more people, and raising more awareness than ever before. Rotary members in 146 countries registered more than 6,500 World Polio Day events and activities, from Brazil to Japan, Nigeria to India. More than $900,000 was contributed online to the PolioPlus Fund which moves us closer to this year’s $50 million fundraising goal to take full advantage of the Bill & Melinda Gates match.
Inspired by this show of support across the globe, our work to eradicate polio continues. On 25 August, Nigeria marked four years without a case of wild poliovirus, and the World Health Organization African region is now officially certified wild poliovirus-free. Rotary has contributed nearly US$890 million—and countless volunteer hours—to eliminate polio in the African region. In the face of an ongoing global pandemic, this is one of the few good news stories for public health, and we should recognize this great achievement. It took tremendous effort and partnership over many years.
Special mention should be made for the dedicated health workers—mainly women—who traveled by every form of transportation imaginable to reach children with the polio vaccine. We are particularly grateful for the Rotary members throughout Africa and around the world who have dedicated themselves to making polio a disease of the past. In fact, Rotary member Dr. Tunji Funsho was named as one of TIME's Most Influential People in the world for his role in leading Rotary towards this historic achievement.
The type of partnership we have formed to make such progress against polio provides a blueprint for future Rotary projects. In fact, such partnerships have already been formed. Next month, the Trustees hope to select the first ever Programs of Scale grant award. This is a grant of up to $ 2 million for a three to five-year project that aligns with one of our causes. It really invites Rotary members to think big about high-impact service projects, and find partners to who are willing to invest money and resources to implement measurable and sustainable solutions.
To support all this transformative work, you can end Foundation Month on a charitable note by participating in Giving Tuesday on 3 December. Rotary will be joining thousands of other organizations worldwide for a global day of giving, and it is a prime opportunity to advance our mission by making a contribution to the Annual Fund. It is now easier than ever to give to the Foundation online.
Remember to use your District Designated Funds for a cause you are passionate about, whether that is PolioPlus, the Disaster Response Fund, the Rotary Peace Centers, or something in your community that could benefit from the support of a district or global grant.
So as we enter the second half of the Rotary year, please keep up your efforts to eradicate polio, tell our story, and increase our impact. With your actions, Rotary Opens Opportunities.
Yours in Rotary,
President, Rotary International 2020-21
Trustee Chair, The Rotary Foundation 2020-21