Rotaract, Rotary International's service club program for young adults ages 18-30, was officially inaugurated during January 1968 under RI President Luther Hodges. On 13 March 1968, the Rotaract Club of the University of North Carolina, sponsored by the Rotary Club of North Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, was the first Rotaract club to receive its official charter. Although this club is recognized as the first Rotaract club, Rotarians have been sponsoring similar organizations for young adults since the early 1920s.
Perhaps the greatest impetus for the creation of the Rotaract program came from Rotary's youth service club for secondary school students, Interact clubs. Established in 1962, the Interact program enjoyed immediate success. However, since membership was only open to students in secondary schools, graduated Interactors and Rotarians were soon looking for ways to extend their relationship. Several proposals were brought before the RI Board of Directors to allow membership in Interact clubs to extend for a few years after graduation. Instead of extending the age requirements for Interact, the Board decided to study the feasibility of creating a new service club program for young adults at the university and young professional level.
The decision to adopt the Rotaract program came at a time when student protests worldwide were of growing concern to Rotarians. The Rotaract program was adopted not only as means of keeping former Interactors within the Rotary family, but as a means of channeling the energies of young adults into positive activities that could benefit their communities.
Since 1968, Rotaractors have continually shown that they can be an innovative and positive force for change in their communities. Service activities commonly undertaken include projects to improve the environment, visits with the elderly or disabled, blood or organ donation campaigns, and aid to developing countries.
Today, Rotaract continues to experience phenomenal growth. There are currently about 7,534 Rotaract clubs in more than 155 countries, with an estimated membership of about 173,282 Rotaractors. As the program continues to grow, Rotaractors repeatedly show that they are prepared for "Fellowship Through Service."