IAN H.S. RISELEY
In the half-century since
the world has seen profound changes, and
young people have felt the greatest impact of
those changes: the rise of technology and the
information economy, the spread of education,
and the tremendous influence of the internet.
When Rotaract was founded, it would have been
almost unthinkable for a teen or 20-something
to have been an entrepreneur or a CEO. Today,
young people have an unprecedented capacity
to achieve — and Rotary needs their ideas and
enthusiasm as never before.
For many years, Rotary has done Rotaract a
disservice by looking at our youth and young adult
programs as mere precursors to Rotary membership,
not as valuable and productive programs in their
own right. But Rotaractors are truly partners in
Today, an estimated quarter of a million Rotaractors
serve in almost 10,000 clubs, in nearly every country
where Rotary clubs exist. The impact of their service
is particularly impressive when contrasted with their
resources. Rotaractors achieve an amazing amount
with far less money at their disposal than the
average Rotary club. Their energy and vision bring
something wonderful to our Rotary family and to
our communities, and we value it very much.
Yet only 27 percent of Rotary clubs sponsor a
Rotaract club, a figure that has remained fairly
stable over time. And far too few Rotaractors
ultimately do move on to Rotary membership.
As we celebrate Rotaract‘s 50th anniversary,
I encourage all Rotary clubs to consider sponsoring
a Rotaract club or to strengthen their ties with the
clubs they already sponsor. Schedule regular joint
meetings, run joint service projects, and reach out
to Rotaractors — not only to ask if you can help,
but also to find out how you can work together.
Know your Rotaract clubs and their members,
and make sure that every Rotaractor knows that
a Rotary club is waiting to welcome them.
For half a century, Rotaract has given young people
a way to find the same connections with their
communities, and the same value in service, that
Rotarians find in Rotary. Rotaractors connect us to
the Rotary of our future — while helping us build
the Rotary of today.