Chances are you’ve seen this golden wheel around, but do you know what it represents?

rotary international

Rotary International is an international service organization that brings together business and professional leaders “to make positive, lasting change in their communities at home and abroad.” Rotary was founded in 1905 by a Chicago attorney named Paul Harris, who wanted to help professionals from diverse fields “exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.” Since then Rotary has grown to include 1.2 million members in over 200 countries. (That’s more than the UN!)

Here at Cooperative for Education, we’ve been honored to work with Rotarians and their Rotary clubs since nearly the beginning of our organization. In 1997, less than a year after Jeff started the first Textbook Program at a school outside of Guatemala City, Rotarians working at a dental clinic next door heard about the project. Not the kind of people to miss out on an opportunity to serve their fellow man, the Rotarians quickly jumped on board and offered to help in any way they could.

Rotary international service project Latin Central South America

Check out this student rocking shades and the Rotary wheel way back in the 90s!

These Rotarians’ initial excitement in the work of CoEd has blossomed into what we call the Guatemala Literacy Project—an international network of individual Rotarians, Rotary clubs, and (of course) Cooperative for Education, that improves education for underserved students in Guatemala. We’ve had over 500 Rotary clubs support the Guatemala Literacy Project (or GLP) since 1997, and together they have put well over $2 million to work for Guatemalan students.

Rotary international service project

But their monetary support is just one part of what they do. As professionals working in a wide range of fields, Rotarians provide valuable expertise and ideas to help the Guatemala Literacy Project have a deeper impact on needy students in Guatemala. Advisory board members from the US, Guatemala, Canada, the Cayman Islands, and the United Kingdom help guide all major decisions of the GLP, and GLP Co-Chair Carolyn Johnson even quit her job as a principal to design and spearhead our Culture of Reading Program!

Rotary international service project Latin Central South America

Carolyn Johnson, founder of the Culture of Reading Program, with a student.

This year, our partnership with Rotary is stronger than ever. The Guatemala Literacy Project is turning into a well-known project in the Rotary world, receiving recognition from The Rotary Foundation (the charitable arm of Rotary International) and catching the attention of Rotary International’s incoming president, who will visit our new Education Center in Guatemala this August.

In addition, our fabulous Rotarian partners are more enthusiastic than ever, spreading the message about the GLP far and wide to other clubs and individual Rotarians. Just last week, they staffed a booth at the Rotary International Convention that generated hundreds of new contacts for the GLP!

We couldn’t be more pleased to have found the hearts of gold that beat in every Rotarian we’ve had the pleasure to meet. THANK YOU, dear Rotarians, for all that you do for students in Guatemala, and never stop being amazing human beings!

Rotary international service project Latin Central South America

This Rotarian wears his heart of gold on his sleeve.

Are you a Rotarian or do you know someone who is? Tell them to check out the GLP!

Rotary international service project website