Posted on May 05, 2022
Rotary believes in developing the next generation of leaders and its youth programs help younger leaders build leadership skills, expand education and learn the value of service.
Rotary's entire family of programs for young leaders and how they help Rotary engage and inspire the next generation of Rotarians, as well as, energize current Rotarians as volunteers, mentors, and advisers is an essential component to the sustainability and success of the organization.

The introduction of these programs targets those who are just starting out, or building upon a successful local program, or trying to encourage your participants to get more involved and will also provide a new way of seeing Rotary's Fifth Avenue of Service and provide some concrete follow-up action steps.

What are Rotary's programs for young leaders?

The official programs of Rotary International include:
  • Interact – designed for persons 12 to 18 years old
    • Interact is Rotary's service club for youth ages 12-18. Interact clubs can be based in schools or in the general community.
  • Rotaract – designed for persons 18 to 30 years old*
    • Rotaract connects young adults to a global network of friendship, engagement, and service. Rotaract clubs can be based at colleges or universities or in the community.
  • Rotary Youth Exchange – designed for persons 15 to 19 years old
    • RYE allows young people, ages 15-19 to study in another country for up to 1 year and builds cultural understanding, one student at a time. 
  • New Generations Service Exchange – designed for persons 30 years old or younger
    • New Generations Service Exchange is a short-term, customizable program for university students and professionals up to age 30. Participants can design exchanges that combine their professional goals with a humanitarian project.

How do these programs benefit participants?

Through these programs, young people
  • Develop life skills
    • Life skills include time management, personal responsibility, financial literacy, and self-esteem
  • Acquire professional and leadership skills
    • Professional and leadership skills mean being a constructive leader, becoming involved in community improvement, and leadership of youth by youth. RYLA in particular highlights the fundamentals of leadership, ethics of leadership, and problem-solving and decision-making
  • Build international understanding and respect for the rights of others
    • Of course, international understanding makes you think of youth exchange, but this focus is found in all of our programs. For instance, Interact comes from the words International and Action and each Interact club selects an annual project that contributes to intercultural understanding. Rotaract also provides opportunities from cross-cultural connection through correspondence to home hosting to twin clubs.
  • Learn ethical standards
    • Key value of Rotary
  • Gain opportunities for service, locally and globally
    • All programs give young people the chance to act locally and globally to improve their communities and communities worldwide


Interact clubs are Rotary's service clubs for young people ages 12-18 and can be found in middle schools, high schools, or the community. Great opportunity to instill leadership and service skills in young people. Giving to the next generation of leaders is wonderful, but as Rotarians will tell you, Rotary clubs get a lot back from these experiences as well. Opportunity to create close ties to community groups and schools and identify new service prospects


RYLA or Rotary Youth Leadership Awards is Rotary's leadership development program. In North America the program is usually targeted toward high school students, the program does not have any age restrictions and content can be tailored to college students, young professionals, or even community members and Rotarians. The program is most widely known as a district-level program, but can be organized at the club or regional levels, too. Consider planning a club-level RYLA seminar to engage with young leaders and professionals in the community. Invite club members to deepen their engagement with Rotary by sharing their leadership skills and professional expertise in club or district RYLA events. Encourage them to work with other districts on multidistrict RYLA events (e.g. my district does RYLA for 16-17 year olds but the district next door works with university students lets send our Rotaractors to help lead the program)


Rotaract is a club for adults ages 18-30 that meets twice a month to exchange ideas, plan activities and projects, and socialize. While Rotary clubs serve as sponsors, Rotaract clubs decide how to organize and run their club and what projects and activities to carry out.
Rotaract is a global community of young adults taking action for positive change through:
  • Hands-on service projects
  • Fun networking and social activities
  • Professional development opportunities
  • An international network of young leaders


Rotary Youth Exchange builds peace one young person at a time. Students learn a new language, discover another culture, and truly become global citizens. RYEs may either be short or long term
  • Short-term RYEs
    • Vary from several days to several weeks
    • Often take place when school is not in session
    • Usually do not include an academic program
    • Generally involve a homestay experience with a family in the host country
    • Also organized as international youth camps or tours that bring together students from many countries
  • Long-term RYEs
    • These exchanges usually last one year, during which the student lives with more than one family in the host country and is required to attend school there for one academic year
    • Involves total immersion in the local culture
    • Student stays with 2-3 host families
How Youth Exchange Operates
  • District Chairpersons work with their counterparts around the world to organize all aspects of exchanges
  • Club committees find and screen students and host families for participation in the program
  • RI works with districts on certification issues
The Rotary Youth Exchange program is unique in the amount of support clubs offer students, rather than just individual host families. While exchange activities are administered at the district level, they really come to life at the club level
While the role of a club varies from district to district and should be checked with a district's respective committee, generally, here are some important points:
  1. If club is hosting or sending an exchange student, appoint a club Youth Exchange Officer and counselor make sure they are well supported by club leadership and motivated in their roles
  2. Ensure strong relationships with any hosted student and the club. Invite them to not only club meetings but service projects and local cultural events. Surveys of students who did not successfully complete their exchanges always show lack of host club support as a factor.
  3. Assist the district in identifying and selecting host families, as appropriate
  4. Promote the program and opportunities to local youth
  5. Work with the district to develop long-lasting partnerships with local schools6) Encourage your club YEOs and counselors to meet with other club YEOs and counselors in your region to share ideas and network


Young leaders up to age 30 can organize a one-of-a-kind exchange experience to realize their strengths while using their skills to help others called "New Generations Service Exchange".
With the flexibility of New Generations Service Exchange and its strong vocational service focus Rotary districts can design an exchange experience that meets local needs. Rotary districts utilize their existing networks through Rotary Youth Exchange, Rotary Friendship Exchange, and twin-club relationships, Rotarian Action Groups, and Fellowships to find international opportunities for young professionals to grow and learn in another country while they give back through service and volunteering.
Since New Generations Service Exchange is organized at the District level, start by contacting District leaders. Together you can work discuss what it takes to sponsor this activity and together you and the District leaders can identify an appropriate partner district to arrange opportunities for internships, work study, volunteering, and homestay. The district may even choose to appoint a District New Generations Service Chair to work with those who hold this position in other districts to start building relationships to get your program off the ground. Each New Generations Service Exchange experience is unique and it's up to the host and sponsor District to coordinate travel, activities, and accommodation. Likewise you can customize the experience as a one-way, reciprocal (another participant comes to your home District from the host District), or group exchange.
  • Individual, small groups, or teams
  • One-way or reciprocal
  • Language study, internships, vocational training, or community service


Rotaract, Interact, RYLA, Rotary Youth Exchange, NGSE plus Foundation alumni: Ambassadorial Scholars, Global Grant Scholars, Rotary Peace Fellows and other Foundation program participants are all considered alumni.
Benefits of Engaging Alumni Members
  • Alumni are interested in acquiring and expanding leadership and professional skills.
  • As volunteers, Alumni have shown a strong interest in international service.
  • As speakers, mentors, advocates Alumni are interested in connecting with a diverse group of professionals and sharing their Rotary experience
For more information on youth programs in District 7030, contact one of the respective committee chairs