The Foundation’s roots stem from a successful community service project, sponsored by the Garrettsville-Hiram, Ohio Rotary Club, to benefit and strengthen family as an institution within the community. The Foundation was originally organized to adapt the concept of that project and make it available to other U.S. Rotary Clubs. After offering the community service project plans to U.S. Rotary Clubs at three consecutive Rotary International Conventions in 2005, 2006, and 2007, it was determined that the project did not generate the appeal needed to continue the effort.
While pondering whether to give up and close down the Foundation, the Foundation’s Executive Director happened to read a news report about a major study known as The Fragile Family and Child Well-being Study conducted by Princeton and Columbia Universities. This paragraph from the Study hit him like a bolt of lightning:
“When intervention (of parents of newborns) is begun at the hospital during the “magic moment (of birth),” such programs have a better chance to succeed in the long-term. The parents’ dedication is more sustainable when they become excited about the program at the very beginning of the child’s life because their motivation and optimism about their future is strongest at the child’s birth. Programs that take advantage of this motivation are more likely to have long-term success.”
This Ah-ha! moment came with the realization that the most effective way to strengthen family units was to educate and motivate parents starting at the birth of a baby. This realization led to the creation of the Foundation’s Begin with the Children project (BWC).
BWC was introduced to Rotary Clubs at the 2008 Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles. From this effort, five pilot projects were undertaken through Rotary Clubs in Arizona, Ohio, and North Carolina. After working with these clubs for about three years it was determined that BWC had serious potential—but that it was not suited for Rotary Clubs because of their global change of leadership each July 1st.
Beginning in 2014, the Foundation assumed direct management of BWC. After making important program adjustments, BWC was ready for expansion in 2016. As of July 1, 2019, more than 7,000 families have enrolled in BWC’s parenting plan.