The power of partnership


“Make no little plans,” American architect Daniel Burnham said. “They have no magic to stir our blood and probably themselves will not be realised.”

When Rotary heeds Burnham’s advice and follows through with action, we shine. We made big plans when we spearheaded a global initiative to eradicate polio; last year the World Health Organisation’s African region was certified polio-free.

When the coronavirus hit about a year ago, The Rotary Foundation quickly mobilised and awarded 319 Covid specific disaster response grants for $7.9 million. To date, we have further awarded 317 Covid global grants for about $24.1 million, which, combined with previously approved global grants that grant sponsors repurposed to support coronavirus response, has made for a total outflow of more than $32.7 million.

We are now thinking big again, through our programmes of scale grants. We will award a $2 million grant annually to one project that aligns with one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus. The grant should solve problems for many people in a large geographic area through a measurable and sustainable approach within a three-to five-year period. It also requires like-minded partners who are committed and resourceful. The idea is also to replicate these programmes in different communities around the world, applying the lessons learned.

The Rotary Club of Federal Way, Washington, has made no little plans. As sponsor of the first programmes of scale grant, the club is leading, in partnership with Zambian Rotary clubs and Malaria Partners Zambia, an effort to help end a disease that is widespread in that country. Through the programme, called Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia, Rotary will help train 60 Zambian district health officials, 382 health facility staff, and 2,500 community health workers to save lives; it will also equip them with the necessary supplies and gear to get the job done. Their aim is no less than reducing malaria by 90 per cent in 10 target districts in two of Zambia’s provinces.

Rotary members are also applying the power of partnering by teaming with several organisations. They include Zambia’s Ministry of Health through its National Malaria Elimination Centre — which will ensure that the programme contributes to the national strategy — as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision, which are also investing substantial resources in co-funding and implementing this $6 million programme.

This first programmes of scale grant will inspire others and make a great impact in the years ahead. It is just the latest chapter in the story of Rotary, one that recounts how ordinary citizens unite to not only plan big but also take bold action to help others in need. It is a stirring story that you, the dedicated members of Rotary who support The Rotary Foundation, are helping to write.


K R Ravindran
Foundation Trustee Chair

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