Rotary receives top Edison Award for Future Vision grant model

Mark Pearce Announcements

Innovative new funding approach increases humanitarian group’s capacity to improve lives and strengthen communities worldwide 

EVANSTON, Ill. (April 26, 2013) — Rotary International has received a Silver Edison Award in recognition of the service organization’s Future Vision Plan, a new grant model that greatly enhances the scope, impact, and sustainability of humanitarian and educational projects funded by The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s charitable arm.

Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka accepted the award during the Annual Edison Awards Gala held April 25 in the Grand Ballroom of historic Navy Pier in downtown Chicago, the city where Rotary was founded in 1905. The Future Vision Plan received top honors among funding models competing in the Lifestyle and Social Impact category.

“This Edison Award recognizes and validates Rotary’s innovative approach to humanitarian service, as we constantly strive to improve lives and communities by addressing the world’s most pressing problems,” said Tanaka. “It is a great honor to accept such a prestigious award on behalf of Rotary’s global membership of 1.2 million men and women.”

The Edison award coincides with the successful completion of a three-year pilot project in which 100 Rotary districts (a district is a regional grouping of Rotary clubs) representing more than 70 countries participated in the Future Vision process.

Future Vision creates a platform for enhanced global volunteer collaboration by providing technical and funding support to innovative local efforts that address community needs, thereby enhancing the capacity of successful projects to achieve sustainable, high-impact results. This approach to social innovation is unique because it combines global reach, local resources, and highly skilled volunteers within a funding structure that distributes $100 million annually in support of qualified projects that address a range of high priority world needs. Priority is given to projects that address any of Future Vision’s six areas of focus: peace building and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Future Vision streamlines the funding process by offering two grant categories: block grants, which support Rotary clubs in carrying out innovative grassroots projects; and global grants, which provide matching funds to clubs and districts to develop larger, more impactful and sustainable community-led projects, often through strategic partnerships with leading institutions with established track records within the areas of focus.

The first project funded in the Future Vision pilot greatly reduced the incidence of deadly dengue fever in Central Java through the installation of white ceramic tile linings in water tubs in 1,400 homes, making it easier for residents to see and remove the larvae of the mosquitos that spread the disease. This $39,000 project was initiated by Rotary clubs in Connecticut and Indonesia. Other Future Vision grants are imparting conflict resolution skills to high school teachers and students in Uganda; providing vocational and entrepreneurial training to women in India; and renovating under-resourced schools in Guatemala, to cite just a few examples.

Future Vision launches globally July 1, 2013, for all of Rotary’s more than 34,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas.

The Edison Awards are named after Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) – who was an honorary Rotarian in his home state of New Jersey — whose extraordinary new product development methods and innovative achievements garnered him 1,093 U.S. patents and made him a household name around the world.  The ballot of nominees for the Edison Awards™ was judged by a panel of more than 3,000 individuals, including members of seven different associations representing a wide variety of industries and disciplines.  The panel also includes professionals from the fields of product development & design, engineering, science and education.  In this comprehensive, peer-review process, the nominees were judged on a set of evaluation criteria developed in partnership with Nielsen. These criteria represent a new definition of innovation, leveraging the primary themes of Concept, Value, Delivery and Impact.  Finalists symbolize 21st century innovation across 12 categories across a diverse range of industries.

The Edison Awards program is conducted by Edison Universe, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to fostering future innovators. The 2013 Edison Awards are sponsored by Nielsen, Discovery Communications, Science Channel, and USA Today. For more information about the Edison Awards, Edison Universe and a list of past winners, visit

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. To access broadcast quality video footage and still photos go to: Media Center.