Rotary International began as the Rotary Club of Chicago on February 23, 1905. It was founded by Chicago attorney Paul P. Harris as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.
The name of the Rotary Club came from the early days of the club when the original members would rotate the meeting locations among the different offices of members. During World War II, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy and Japan were forced to disband. Over 1.2 million people now belong to Rotary International, and Rotary has clubs on six continents.
Some famous members of Rotary International include former U.S. President Warren G. Harding, novelist Thomas Mann and boxer Manny Pacquaio.
Rotary works with several notable charitable organizations including UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. In 1979, Rotary began a project to immunize 6 million children with the polio vaccine. Since 1988, the number of polio-endemic countries has dropped from 125 to three.
Rotary International used 92 percent of its expenditures to run its programs in 2014. This included $1 million to fight polio in Africa, $98,500 to provide clean water to rural Kenya, and $25,500 to provide women in Honduras with business training and access to small loans.