By Adriann Sullivan | Plaza Rotary Club

As we move Rotary forward with a renewed emphasis on youth involvement and the expansion of our New Generations programs, it’s important that we take a second to get to know our “New Generation”. Generations, like people, have personalities, and Generation Y/ Millennials – who are in their mid-20s or younger – have begun to forge their own.

A few of their distinguishing characteristics include:


  • Three-quarters of Millennials have created a profile on a social networking site, compared with half of Gen Xers, 30% of Boomers and 6% of Silents.

  • They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults.
  • They are more open to change than their predecessor generations.
  • They're on track to become the most educated generation in American history.

But, did you know that they are also on track to become the most civic-minded and socially conscious generation?


Recent academic and market research has unveiled the following stats regarding the civic nature of this younger generation.

  • 61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world.
  • 81% have volunteered in the past year.
  • Two-thirds of college freshmen (66%) believe it is essential or very important to help others in difficulty, suggests a survey of 263,710 students at 385 U.S. colleges and universities. The 2005 report, by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, found feelings of social and civic responsibility among entering freshmen at the highest level in 25 years.

We would be remiss to ignore the philanthropic ambitions of this up-and-coming generation. If I learned nothing else in my college economics class (it’s open to question…), I learned through the principle of supply and demand that the Millennials’ elevated interest in civic and social activity must be met with ample opportunities and outlets for service, in order to achieve the greatest good.

Interact, Rotaract, and Youth Exchange are just a few Rotary-sponsored programs that can help feed the Millennial need to make a difference in the world. And they’re working…

During a New Generation’s training session in Jefferson City last weekend, we got a chance to meet and talk to members of Rotaract and Interact clubs from throughout districts 6040, 6060, and 6080. When asked what they liked most about Interact/ Rotaract, the recurring responses were the: opportunities to serve, opportunities for international exposure and understanding, and opportunities to make a difference.