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Rotaract originally began as a Rotary International youth program in 1968 in Charlotte, NC, and has grown into a major Rotary sponsored organization of nearly 11,000 clubs with over 250,000 members in over 180 countries and geographic areas.
It is a service, leadership and community service organization for young men and women between the ages 18–30. Rotaract focuses on the development of young adults as leaders in their communities and workplaces. Clubs around the world also take part in international service projects, in a global effort to bring peace and international understanding to the world.
Rotaract clubs can either be university-based or community-based. In the U.S., there are more university-based clubs, and in the rest of the world, there are more community-based clubs.
"Rotaract" stands for "Rotary in Action", although the name originally comes from a combination of "Rotary" and "Interact" (International + Action), the high school level program created by Rotary International in 1962.
In the late 1960s, noting the success of the recently formed Interact program, the RI Board realized the need for a program of service, activity, and fellowship for young adults no longer of Interact age (12-18). The name Rotaract (Rotary in Action) was selected to show the program's close affiliation with both Rotary and Interact clubs.
Rotary International President Luther Hodges (the only RI President from North Carolina) inaugurated Rotaract in 1968. The first club in the world was the Rotaract Club of University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC), right here in District 7680! The club received its charter on March 13th with 21 members, and was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Charlotte North.
Within a day of the certification of the Rotaract Club of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, the Rotaract Club of the University of La Salle was chartered in Tacubaya, Mexico. The Rotaract clubs of Florence, Italy; Gaston College and Sylva, both in North Carolina; and Secunderabad, India, were all certified in the following weeks. Since the 1950s, many Rotary clubs had been starting unofficial clubs for young adults, so this fueled Rotaract’s rapid growth in its first few years. Rotaract grew from 21 clubs in 1967-68 to 289 clubs a year later.
There are now approximately 250,000 Rotaractors in nearly 11,000 Rotaract clubs in over 180 countries and geographic areas.
Rotaract clubs were originally open to young men and women ages 17-24. Since 1991, young adults ages 18-30 have been welcomed. NOTE: RI recently eliminated the age 30 maximum age.
For more information and locations of Rotaract clubs in our 14-county District, please contact District Chair Merna Gill at 480-686-6503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.