Rotaract, Rotary International’s Service Club program for young adults aged 18-30, was officially inaugurated during January 1968 under R.I. President Luther Hodges.
On 13 March 1968, the Rotaract Club of the University of North Carolina,sponsored by the Rotary Club of North Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, was the first Rotaract Club to receive its official charter.
The decision to adopt the Rotaract program came at a time when student protests worldwide were of growing concern to Rotarians. The Rotaract program was adopted not only as means of keeping former Interactors within the Rotary family, but as a means of channeling the energies of young adults into positive activities that
could benefit their communities.
After polling students at the University of Houston, Texas, USA, the committee decided that “Rotaract” would be the best name for the program – a combination of the words “Rotary” and “Action”. It was also decided that young women should be allowed to join on equal standing with male members at the discretion of the sponsoring Rotary Club.
Since 1968, Rotaractors have continually shown that they can be an innovative and positive force for change in their communities. Service activities commonly undertaken include projects to improve the environment, visits with the elderly or disabled, blood or organ donation campaigns, and aid to developing countries. One example of the ingenuity employed by Rotaractors is a project undertaken by the Rotaract Clubs of Heemstede and Hillegom-Lissee, the Netherlands, in 1987. In order to raise funds for PolioPlus, Rotaractors from the two clubs designed an amphibious cycle that would cross the English Channel under the power of 36 Rotaractors. The campaign raised US$210,000 for PolioPlus and earned the Rotaractors a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for their speedy crossing.”
Today, Rotaract continues to experience phenomenal growth. There are currently more than 7,500 Rotaract Clubs in more than 170 countries, with an estimated membership of more than 200,000 Rotaractors. As the program continues to grow, Rotaractors repeatedly show that they are prepared for “Fellowship Through Service.”