Growing Local Economies 

RI President Shekar recently stated “If you feel the need to reignite the spark of service in yourself or your club, October – Community Economic Development (CED) Month – is a great time to do so”. 
President Shekar goes on to say, “When we work to improve the lives of people in underserved communities – through, for example, projects that provide vocational training and access to financial resources – we build and sustain local economic growth”.
Here is some sobering data to consider-795 million people or 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat; 60% of the world’s hungry are women and girls; 70% of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood. 
We know Rotarians are passionate about providing solutions to poverty.  Over the past year, The Rotary Foundation has provided $9.2 million to grow local economies and reduce poverty.  But The Rotary Foundation needs more donations to strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities.
Canadian Rotary clubs have developed a number of CED (Community and Economic Development) focused Global Grants.  One that I would like to briefly tell you about is “Training Indigenous Youth in Safe Water Management”, a project started by the Rotary Club of Guelph, District 7080.
Even in Canada, accessible safe drinking water is an issue.  13.5% of First Nations in Canada are under a Boil Water Advisory and Ontario is at 40%, twice as many as the national average.  While it is not safe to drink the water, many people have no alternative.  Sometimes the water is so contaminated that even using it for bathing or laundry is problematic.  As such, the health and financial security of individual families are threatened, and this also negatively impacts the economic development of the entire community.
Global Grant partner Water First (an NGO) is currently delivering a Drinking Water Internship program for young Indigenous adults from the Georgian Bay, Ontario area. The recruitment process included efforts towards encouraging young women to pursue a career in a male dominated industry resulting in over 50% of participants being female. The communities participating in this program will benefit in many ways including an increased number of young Indigenous adults with water certification and work experience in water treatment plants, expanded professional networks for future support, and the invaluable collaboration of Tribal elders and their traditional water knowledge.
As their youth graduate and receive a meaningful full-time jobs, there will be a profound positive impact on their communities.  These new water operators, which will include a focus on recruiting young women, will serve as role models for other Indigenous youth as they observe the productive and stable jobs that can result from skills training and gender equity in a traditionally male job category.
Isn’t this what it’s all about?  Rotarians working together supporting investments in people and communities to create sustainable, measurable, and enduring economic improvements in poor and underserved areas.
As your Canadian Member for the CED Major Gifts Initiative Committee, I do have an ASK (Arch Klumph Society) of you.  At the start of this article, I mentioned feeling the need to reignite the spark of service in yourself or your club this month
using CED as the impetus, and my ASK is to do it now.  Make a donation to the CED Area of Focus, or a specific CED project, like the Training Indigenous Youth in Safe Water Management project noted above.  Consider an Endowed gift to CED. For more information about the possible impact of a major gift or Rotary’s Endowment, please reach out to me at my email address
Now is the time to take action to promote economic development which is sustainable, measurable, and community driven.  Working together, we can create opportunity by investing in communities.
Jim Louttit
PDG, District 7070
Rotary Club of Toronto Sunrise
Member, Community Economic Development Major Gifts Initiative Committee 2021-2023