(from the January, 2019 Issue of the Zone Newsletter - Beyond Borders - by By Brian Carmichael, bacarmichael@gmail.com, ARC Zone 24 East
What do Districts 5050, 6330, 7040, 7070, 7080, 7410, and 7450 in Zones 24 and 32 have in common? These Districts are all homes to a new type of Rotary Club format, commonly referred to as a Passport Club. This relatively new format is mostly prevalent in North America where there are a total of 15 clubs. There are a few in the rest of our Rotary world.

So just what is a Passport Club?
The broadest definition that would encompass all these clubs would be the following: An affordable Rotary Club centered around Service opportunities with a flexible meeting schedule.
The D5050 Pacific Northwest Passport club describe themselves as follows “Our Members have a “passport" to visit and work with any other Rotary Club in the world and to take part in activities, programs and projects that interest and engage them.”
Just a little history on the Passport Club concept. The first Passport Club, not surprisingly called Passport 1, is in Sacramento, California. formed in March 2015 by Two individuals, Glenn Fong and Michael Rienero. Michael, while doing extensive research on the concept of volunteering, kept coming up with 40 service hours being the point at which outcomes were changed. The example he likes to use is the suicide hot-line. They seem to be able to relate each 40 volunteer hours to a life saved. Couple this with the 40 – 48 1-hour meetings per year of most Rotary clubs, Michael felt it would be a suitable to ask Passport members to donate 40 service hours per year as a part of their membership expectation.
Passport clubs can engage/recruit Rotarians from the whole District or cover a smaller defined area. The Scarborough Passport Club in D7070 has, as the name implies, a focus on that portion of Toronto known as Scarborough. D7080 has recently chartered their Passport South Club. The long-term vision is to have several Passport clubs spread throughout the District. Not surprisingly, the future clubs will be Passport North, East, West, and Central. In order to identify their service opportunities, the Passport South club works closely with the AG’s and clubs in the Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington corridor.
Last month the first North American online meeting of Passport Club Presidents was held. This meeting was arranged as Passport Clubs recognized that they do not necessarily fit into the mould of a standard District Rotary Club. Based on the participants' comments they will be meeting regularly to share their successes and challenges. Their first collaboration will be to modify the existing Rotary Membership Satisfaction Survey into a survey that will reflect the unique nature of Passport Clubs.