As the Rotary Club of Tucson prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2021, it has committed to leaving a legacy that could serve Southern Arizona for another 100 years.
The Rotary Club of Tucson is one of about a dozen Rotary clubs in Southern Arizona. There are approximately 35,000 Rotary Clubs around the world, with more than 1.2 million members.
The local service organization is made up of business people, politicians, educators and others who are interested in quietly making Tucson a better place by promoting literacy, education and other good works through charitable donations and volunteerism.
When the more than 250 members began to plan the Tucson club’s 100th anniversary, they decided to go big and really give back to the community. A centennial committee, chaired by Jim Lubinski, and then a centennial charity selection committee, chaired by Jim Murphy, were formed and the work began.
First, the centennial charity committee had to come up with a detailed request for proposals. In that request, nonprofits were asked to dream big and apply for a grant — a minimum of $250,000 would be guaranteed — to make that dream come true.
The team wanted visionary projects that would benefit the community, and it received 41 proposals, all worthy of investment. The proposals were whittled down to five through an arduous process, and site visits were made to each of them. Three finalists were selected: Interfaith Community Services, Joint Technical Education District (JTED) and the Reid Park Zoo.
All three finalists will benefit from the club’s proceeds, but JTED was selected as the winner of a $250,000 grant (and possibly more). The JTED project proposed was the Innovation Learning Center — ground is to be broken this month on the center at Park Avenue near Interstate 10.
JTED was selected because of its plan to prepare students for employment and/or college with many types of technical and hands-on education. The committee saw that this project could contribute to the economic development of the Tucson area for years to come.
The grant will be funded largely through the Rotary Club of Tucson’s annual Tucson Classics Car Show, now in its 13th year. The popular event is expected to bring in at least $200,000 in 2019. Almost all of the club’s members volunteer in some capacity to make the car show a success; JTED has provided volunteers in previous years as well. JTED will receive 60 percent of the proceeds from the 2020 car show and 100 percent of the show’s 2021 proceeds.
The other two finalists selected will each receive 20 percent of the 2019 car show proceeds.
These aren’t the only programs to receive support from Rotary Club of Tucson. Reading Seed and Make Way for Books have benefited from the club’s generosity in the past, and that will continue as members mentor elementary school students and provide funding for literacy programs.
Members of the Tucson club and Rotary District 5500 Southern Arizona also join the Ride to End Polio by riding in El Tour de Tucson each year. Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio for more than 30 years and continues that effort.