History of Racine Founder's Rotary Club

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Racine’s first Rotary Club was founded on June 17, 1917, just 12 years after Paul P. Harris founded the first Rotary Club in Chicago. The attorney, who was born in Racine, developed Rotary so that professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships and give back to their communities.

“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves,” Harris once said.

The Rotary Club of Racine (which eventually became the Downtown Club) was founded in 1917 and grew to spin off two additional clubs – Racine Rotary West Club in 1969 and the Rotary Club of Racine Founders in 1985. Eventually, all of the clubs converged into the Founders Club, which meets at 7 a.m. Fridays at the Racine Country Club, 4801 Northwestern Ave. The club has 115 members from various professions and careers. Visitors are welcome. The Rotary motto is “Service above Self.”

All three clubs had charitable foundations that resulted from their fundraising efforts to raise money for community, national and international projects. The donation to Paul P. Harris Rotary Park and band shell came from those combined foundations. Millions of dollars have been contributed to Rotary programs. Among the more notable contributions are the following:

  • Rotary Post Prom, which every spring safely provides about 1,500 graduating high school seniors with the “World’s Best Prom” (See more at: Rotarypostprom.com)
  • Career Discovery Solutions (CDS), a program that offers middle school students opportunities to explore career options while solving a hands-on challenge at various Racine businesses and organizations (See more at: cdsracine.com)
  • Camp Anokijig, Rotarians raised money to purchase land for the camp in 1932 and continue to award “camperships” to children who otherwise would not be able to attend (See more at: Anokijig.com)
  • Dennis Barry Strive Scholarships, awarded every year to high school graduates and college students to pursue higher education
  • Rotary Youth Exchange, which gives local high school students the opportunity to live abroad for a year and for foreign high school students to come to the Racine area to experience life here
  • International humanitarian projects, including clean water filter project in Uzbekistan, a medical clinic in Guatemala and a horse therapy facility at an orphanage in Kyrgyzstan

For more information about Rotary International visit: Rotary.org