Posted on Oct 23, 2018
Rotary Club of New Berlin, New Berlin Rotary Club, Rick Debe, Rotary water projects
Rick Debe reviews Rotary International's grant programs.
Rotary grants improve lives all over the world
Rotary International is best known for its efforts to eradicate polio. Understandably so. Since establishing that goal in 1985, Rotary and its partners have reduced the incidence of polio an estimated 99.99%. In 2017, there were only 22 reported cases in the world. Polio is endemic in just three countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
Gains such as this are possible due to grants issued by The Rotary Foundation. We learned more about Rotary grants during our Oct. 23 meeting. Rick Debe, District Water & Sanitation Chair, reviewed the grant processes as well as several international water projects local Rotarians are involved in.
The Rotary Foundation is structured to be self-sustaining. Donations are invested, with interest used to cover administration costs. Some 97-98% of donations are returned in the form of grants. This type of performance has earned the Foundation an "outstanding recommendation" by Charity Navigator, Debe says. 
Debe, International Service Chair at his home club, Mukwonago Rotary, said that in 2017:
· Rotarians donated $140.1 million to the Foundation
· Rotary issued 1,260 Global Grants
· Rotary dispersed $111.5 million in humanitarian grants worldwide
Guatemala communities benefit from Rotary grants
A hands-on kind of person, Debe has been involved in several projects in Guatemala that were funded partly by Rotary grants. The projects occurred in these communities:
La Laguna: Bring potable water to the community of 550 residents. Grant total of $51,545.
Joyabaj: Filter river water to serve 25,000 residents. Grant was $40,000.
Joyabaj Bridges Projects: Three foot bridges in and near Joyabaj. Rotary provided grants of nearly $12,000 for each bridge.
Planned for next year is the Chupoj Water Project. It's an extensive project that will provide clean water for about 600 residents.
Its budget is $164,000, of which $64,000 has been raised in Guatemala. District and Foundation grants are expected to total about $32,000. The Rotary Club of Milwaukee has pledged $20,000. Organizers to raise the rest through Rotary Club donations and further matching grants from the Rotary Foundation.

Debe encourages Rotarians to "get out of their box" and volunteer internationally. "It's such a life-changing experience," he says, adding that "this is not a travel club. You will be working every day."