Like many Rotary International programs, Rotary Youth Exchange began with only two clubs. The first official documented Rotary exchanges were initiated by the Rotary Club of Copenhagen in 1929 and involved only European participants. These European exchanges continued until World War II and resumed in 1946 at the end of the war.
Exchanges between clubs in California and Latin American countries began in 1939, and exchange activities spread to the eastern US in 1958. The first multi-district youth exchange was formed in 1962 as several East Coast clubs and districts joined together to form the Eastern States Student Exchange (ESSEX).
In 1972, the Rotary International board of directors agreed to make youth exchange an official program of Rotary International. The program is still administered by clubs, districts and multi-district groups and has grown to include more than 60 countries and more than 6,000 students each year.
Mountain and Plains RYE began in 1992. As an accredited program, every year our Rotary Clubs host up to 28 students from about 20 foreign countries, and we sponsor up to 28 Colorado high school students to go abroad: