R. I. President Message

RI President 2017-18 Ian H.S. Riseley, - April 2018

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Dear Fellow Rotarians,

At the 1990 Rotary International Convention in Portland, Oregon, then President-elect Paulo Costa told the gathered Rotarians, "The hour has come for Rotary to raise its voice, to claim its leadership, and to rouse all Rotarians to an honorable crusade to protect our natural resources." He declared a Rotary initiative to "Preserve Planet Earth," asking Rotarians to make environmental issues part of their service agenda: to plant trees, to work to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the planet for future generations.

President Costa asked that one tree be planted for each of the 1.1 million members that Rotary had at the time. We Rotarians, as is our wont, did better, planting nearly 35 million trees by the end of the Rotary year. Many of those trees are likely still flourishing today, absorbing carbon from the environment, releasing oxygen, cooling the air, improving soil quality, providing habitat and food for birds, animals, and insects, and yielding a host of other benefits. Unfortunately, while those trees have kept on doing good for the environment, Rotary as a whole has not carried its environmental commitment forward.

That is why, at the start of this year, I followed Paulo Costa's example and asked Rotary to plant at least one tree for every Rotary member. My goal was to achieve a good beyond the considerable benefits that those 1.2 million (or more!) trees would themselves bring. It is my hope that by planting trees, Rotarians will renew their interest in, and attention to, an issue that we must put back on the Rotary agenda: the state of our planet.

Environmental issues are deeply entwined in every one of our areas of focus and cannot be dismissed as not Rotary's concern. Pollution is affecting health across the globe: More than 80 percent of people in urban areas breathe unsafe air, a number that rises to 98 percent in low- and middle-income countries. If current trends continue, by 2050 the oceans are expected to contain more plastics by weight than fish. And rising temperatures are well-documented: Global annual average temperatures increased by about 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) from 1880 through 2015. That this change was caused by humans is not a subject of scientific debate, nor is the likelihood of vast economic and human disruption if the trend continues unchecked. The need for action is greater than ever – and so is our ability to have a real impact.

As past UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it, "There can be no Plan B, because there is no Planet B." Our planet belongs to all of us, and to our children, and to their children. It is for all of us to protect, and for all of us in Rotary to make a difference.

Ian H.S. Riseley
President 2017-18

Trustee Chair's Message - April 2018

Paul A. Netzel, Trustee Chair 2017-18

The new grant model comes up frequently during my visits with Rotarians throughout the world. It is always disappointing to learn that a club or district lacks interest in participating in global grants.

What are the reasons I hear most often? Global grants are too complicated. They take too much work, require too much money. Or the available pool of DDFs (District Designated Funds) may not be large enough to meet the demand.

Yet the numbers tell a story that can be perceived as positive. During 2016-17 – The Rotary Foundation's centennial year – 1,260 global grants were awarded, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. And the figures for the first half of this Rotary year are running ahead of last year.

Your ongoing feedback and suggestions have helped make a difference. Numerous upgrades have been made to the global grant online application process. The time it takes to process global grants has been significantly reduced. In 2016-17, the average was 129 business days from the time a grant application was submitted to the first payment. The average was 107 business days for 2017-18 as of 1 February.

If your club has not participated in a global grant, I urge you to take another look at the resources now available. Start by looking at the newly redesigned Rotary Grant Center at grants.rotary.org. Explore the comprehensive resources linked in the right-hand column.
Our Foundation's outstanding grants staff wants to help, drawing on its expertise and TRF's collective experience. Establish a relationship with the staff contact for your project district. The Rotary Support Center can provide contact information within one business day (rotarysupportcenter@rotary.org).

The Rotary Foundation's Cadre of Technical Advisers is a group of volunteer Rotarians who also provide technical expertise and advice to Rotarians planning and carrying out Rotary projects. If you would like to receive guidance on project planning early in the process, contact cadre@rotary.org.

A critical role of the Trustees is to listen. Rotary members have spoken. Together we are a powerful force of volunteers who identify needs and respond with generosity, creativity, and passion. Rotary grants provide us with a unique opportunity to bring ideas to reality and to make a lasting impact, whether locally or globally.

Paul A. Netzel
Trustee Chair 2017-18

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