Dear Fellow Rotarians,
This is a historic day for Rotary. It is our great pleasure to inform you of a new partnership between Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will provide a much needed US$200 million in support of our top goal of a polio-free world.
The Gates Foundation has awarded The Rotary Foundation a challenge grant of $100 million, which Rotary will match, dollar for dollar, over three years. This is the largest single grant ever given to a volunteer service organization and represents a tremendous validation of the approach and success of our PolioPlus program.
This partnership comes at a critical juncture for the polio eradication initiative, which needs an infusion of funds to reach the eradication goal. For this reason, the initial $100 million will be distributed by The Rotary Foundation through grants to the World Health Organization and UNICEF in direct support of polio immunization activities in 2008.
Your participation in this effort is crucial to making it a success. The Rotary International Board of Directors and the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation have unanimously agreed to accept this challenge grant to ensure the success of the PolioPlus program. We feel confident that this extraordinary commitment from the Gates Foundation and Rotary will serve as a catalyst for further donations from others to help us realize the dream of a polio-free world.
In 1985, we promised every child a world free from the threat of polio, and we are almost there. This funding agreement between Rotary and the Gates Foundation is a huge step forward, bringing us even closer to our goal. Success is our only option.
Wilfrid J. Wilkinson Robert S. Scott