Rotaract originally began as a Rotary International youth program in 1968 at Charlotte North Rotary Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, and has grown into a major Rotary-sponsored organization of over 9,539 clubs spread around the world and 219,397 members. It is a service, leadership and community service organization for young men and women between the ages 18–30. Rotaract focuses on the development of young adults as leaders in their communities and workplaces. Clubs around the world also take part in international service projects, in a global effort to bring peace and international understanding to the world.
“Rotaract” stands for “Rotary in Action”, although the name originally comes from a combination of “Rotary” and “Interact” (International + Action), the high school level program created by Rotary International in 1962.
Most Rotaract activities take place at the club level. Rotaract clubs hold formal meetings, usually every two weeks, which feature speakers, special outings, social activities, discussions or visits to other clubs. Club members get together on designated days for service project work, social events, or professional/leadership development workshops.
The purpose of Rotaract is to provide an opportunity for young men and women to enhance the knowledge and skills that will assist them in personal development, to address the physical and social needs of their communities, and to promote better relations between all people worldwide through a framework of friendship and service.
To be eligible for membership, prospective members must be 18–30 years of age, show that they are committed to Rotaract, and show that they are of good standing in the community. After being approved by the club, prospective members are ‘inducted’ to become members, also known as ‘Rotaractors’. Clubs generally charge a small annual membership fee to cover costs. San Diego State Rotaract is the only known Rotaract Club to conduct an interview process and only allows in the top 50 leaders on campus who have a passion for “Service Above Self.”