Posted by David Button on Apr 05, 2020


As people of action, Rotary members want to find ways to respond to COVID-19, which is now a global pandemic, and to help people affected by it. The Rotary Foundation offers several options that Rotarians can use to help care for and protect people in their own communities and others around the world.

District grants

Districts can use district grant funds to support local activities, like purchasing thermometers, protective medical gear, or other items to donate to medical professionals who need them. Districts can also use contingency funds from an open district grant or repurpose previously planned activities as a COVID-19 response. As districts prepare to submit new district grant applications for 2020-21, we encourage you to designate funds for COVID-19 responses. As a one-time exception, the Foundation will allow expenses related to COVID-19 that were incurred since 15 March 2020 to be reimbursed through 2020-21 district grants.

Disaster response grants and the Rotary Disaster Response Fund

Rotary’s disaster response grants provide a fast and effective way to respond to local events. The Rotary Foundation recently added COVID-19 projects to its list of eligible activities for these grants. Each district can apply for one grant (of up to $25,000) to address COVID-19, depending on the available funds. Disaster response grants are funded by the Rotary Disaster Response Fund to help districts around the world respond to disasters. The fund accepts online contributions and DDF. Districts may designate that their DDF contributions to the Disaster Response Fund be used exclusively for COVID-19 grant activities. Cash contributions will be used for general disaster response, including response to COVID-19.

Global Grants

Global grants remain an excellent way to make a transformative impact in a community. If medical equipment is needed in order to respond effectively to COVID-19, global grants can help pay for these items. The Foundation is waiving the 30 percent foreign financing requirement for any new global grant that addresses COVID-19. Note that these grants still require both a host and an international partner.
In response to these new guidelines, District 7475 (New Jersey USA) has partnered with the Rotary Club of Berwick to apply for two Global Grants specifically for ventilators to help patients recover from life-threatening COVID19 infection. Between these two Grants totalling $100,000 US, ten refurbished ventilators have been purchased to be used in two local New Jersey Hospitals. New Jersey Hospitals are already overrun with cases of COVID19, so the threat is real and action is urgent. Both these Global Grants have been approved and the equipment is on its way! 
Press Release from District 7475 Foundation Chair Dr D. Michael Hart.
Rotary International District 7475 which encompasses most of northern New Jersey has obtained grants and has purchased 10 ventilators for area hospitals which will save 130 lives.
Rotary District 7475 includes 83 Rotary Clubs in the following New Jersey counties: Essex; Hunterdon; Somerset; Middlesex; Mercer; Morris; Sussex; Union; Warren; and the town of New Hope, PA. Past District Governor Dr D. Michael Hart is the Foundation Chair for the District. He was able to write two grant proposals which were matched by Rotary International totalling over $100,000.
There is an urgent need for Ventilators in New Jersey hospitals to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Without ventilators, patients die. Ventilators typically last for 10 years. Hospital-grade ventilators cost about $40,000 each. Refurbished ventilators are approximately $10,000 each. Rotary wanted to stretch their dollars to do the most good, so they purchased ten refurbished ventilators to save the greatest number of people. The Rotary fiscal year ends on June 30th, so the District will get more funds on July 1st for additional grants.
The Coronavirus is an airborne disease infecting the lungs. It has an incubation period of between 3 to 14 days without symptoms; with the peak onset of the disease at 5 or 6 days. The disease symptoms last for about three weeks. Day 6 seems to be a critical turning point where some patients become seriously worse. In the more serious cases, a ventilator is needed for the last two weeks of the hospital stay. Without a ventilator, the more serious patients will die. Over a six-month period, 10 ventilators will save 130 lives. Ventilators typically last 10 years, so they will save many multiples of 130 lives. The Rotary District is donating them to the hospitals for future use.
The Rotary International Foundation has made fighting the COVID 19 virus a priority and issued a letter to that effect on Tuesday, March 24th at 6 pm. The Rotary District 7475 Grants Committee held a phone conference the next day Wednesday, March 25th and decided to put District resources into this urgent need. The Grants committee consists of District Governor Ray Freaney of The Rotary Club Madison, District Grants Chair Sharan Jain from The Rotary Club of New Brunswick, and Rotary Foundation Chair Dr D. Michael Hart from The Rotary Club of Westfield. Michael started an application to purchase 3 ventilators that same day and submitted it by Friday night. On Monday. March 30th. The Rotary Foundation located in Chicago, Illinois approved the grant. Most Global Grants take between 6 months to a year to write up, obtain estimates, submit and obtain approval. This grant only took 4 business days. The first 3 ventilators are destined for Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, NJ.
Since the first Global Grant was such a success, the grants committee met again on Wednesday, April 1st and decided to use the remaining District resources to purchase as many ventilators as they could.  Dr. Michael Hart wrote up the second international matching grant to obtain 7 more ventilators for RWJ University Hospital Somerset, NJ. The matching grant was approved by Rotary International on Friday, April 3, 2020.
RWJ University Hospital Somerset is part of RWJ Barnabas Health. This includes 15 hospitals and is the largest hospital system in both New Jersey and the United States. The system was formed by a merger of the Robert Wood Johnson Health System and the Saint Barnabas Health Care System on March 30, 2016. They are affiliated with RWJ Medical School, Piscataway. The ventilator equipment is shared among the 15 hospitals as needed.
Global Grants require an international partner. District 7475 had done a fundraiser for Rotary District 9820 in Australia. Over our winter, (their summer), they had extensive wildfires which were out of control. District 7475 in New Jersey raised funds to go towards the purchase of two BlazeAid trailers to help them rebuild after the fires. We have a relationship with them because one of our members, Past District Governor Bob Button in the Rotary Club of Lake Hopatcong, NJ has a brother living there, David Button. David is the President-elect of the Rotary Club of Berwick, Victoria, Australia. That club was kind enough to be our partner to purchase ventilators in New Jersey, even though they also have a Coronavirus problem in Australia.
Rotary International is an international business networking and service organization. Most towns have a Rotary club.  Guests are always welcome. The international website is www.rotary .org. The District 7475 Website is Most Rotary clubs are meeting digitally through Zoom during the shutdown. Please take your time to learn more about Rotary and how you can make a difference in the world.