Building a Cadre, Part 3: Action

Now that your cadre is fully formed, with a thorough plan and a carefully selected and dedicated group of members, it's time to take action.

Now that your cadre is fully formed, with a thorough plan and a carefully selected and dedicated group of members, it's time to take action. This step in the process varies widely depending on the cadre's structure, objectives, and more - but there are still some tips and tricks that will help you succeed. Let's get started.

This series is based off of a process for building a cadre developed by the CDC, which you can find here:

Training Cadre | Professional Development & Training | Healthy Schools | CDC
This page provides a step-by-step process of how to build a training cadre. If you are looking to maximize your professional development (PD) knowledge, skills, and resources and further your organization’s reach, consider building a training cadre.


The core purpose of a cadre is to be a nucleus around which a larger organization can be formed. There's nothing wrong with training individuals, but the true value of a cadre emerges when it's able to train trainers - that is, train individuals who then go on to train others.

There are a variety of needs in order to run a training - the expertise (both in the subject matter and in teaching itself), the logistics of arranging and coordinating a time and location, material/funding needs for teaching materials, a curriculum or course plan to use while teaching, and publicity to let potential attendees know the training is happening. Part of the work of a cadre is identifying which of these topics are the biggest stumbling blocks, and which the cadre can help with - something you investigated during the assessment step and will now be putting into action.

While this section is the most variable and depends wildly on your local context, here are some concepts to keep in mind:

Mechanism of Change

There are different models for making change - you can train people directly, train trainers (who then go on to teach others), form partnerships with local groups to assist their work, or anything else you can think of that fits your local objectives and needs - every situation is unique. Get creative in your work and try to identify opportunities that others might miss.

Event Types

There are a variety of ways to reach out and directly educate your community. Keep in mind that you have options!

Training Events

Training events focus on instruction - the classic "students learn information from an instructor" focused largely on providing the students with new information that they can apply right away. These events can serve large groups of students without too much trouble. The information from training events should be immediately applicable - otherwise students will tend to forget it rather quickly.


Workshops focus on techniques and skills. These tend to have less focus on the instructor providing information to the students, and more on the students interacting with each other to practice and apply specific skills. Workshops are best suited for small groups, and tend to develop long-term skills.

Training of Trainers

Training of trainers, which focus less on the subject being taught and more on how to teach it, enabling the attendees to go on to train others.

The following document from the CDC provides more detail about training-of-trainers.

Information Sessions

Information sessions/presentations are focused more on providing an overview of a topic in a short time, frequently as part of a larger event. This primarily raises awareness and provides attendees with enough information to decide if they would like to go on to learn more by attending other training events.

Technical Assistance

Technical assistance to others (logistics, funding, publicity, course plans, etc.) to help host their own events. This focuses on building the capacity of the partner organization and is frequently referred to (in the business world) as consulting. By strengthening organizations in your community, your cadre is able to build lasting change that can be much larger than the cadre itself - for example, your 5-person cadre may be able to help a 200-person organization form and succeed, then step back and let it continue to make change with minimal assistance from you. A few can mobilize and organize many!

Best Practices

As you work, keep in mind you're trying to build a sustainable training infrastructure by designing training materials, promoting events, delivering high-quality training, providing follow-up support to attendees, and evaluating your efforts to continually improve them. The sections below will go into further detail about how to think about these concepts.


The most fundamental component of your work is sustainability. A small cadre which runs the occasional training periodically for years is far and away better than a massive one which conducts a flurry of trainings for a month and then burns out.

Key components of sustainability include careful attention to the amount of work each member is doing such that nobody is overburdened, and good alignment between your goals and reality. Don't be afraid to move slowly if it keeps you moving longer, and make sure to set goals that you can achieve, no matter how small.

Sustainability also requires planning to replace people who have other commitments arise, or to grow the cadre if it becomes clear more people are needed. A well-thought-through recruiting strategy and documentation for each role helps ensure the cadre itself stays running even as the individual members change.


Designing effective training could (and does) take up entire books. We'll cover only the barest summary here, but I encourage you to read further about how to design training and education for maximum effectiveness.

A good starting point when you're designing any kind of training material is to lay out the end goal. What (specifically) do you want participants to know and be able to do by the end of the training?

While you're coming up with the answer, keep in mind that some of the most common mistakes in designing training are unclear objectives, too many objectives, or just too much content. If you try to teach students too much, they'll instead come away overwhelmed.

No matter what you're teaching, you can follow this general approach:

  • identify a target audience
  • develop a (small!) set of objectives for participants
  • plan a comprehensive agenda
  • make any necessary plans for follow-up support (more on that later)


This is another facet of the cadre's work which, while conceptually simple, can become massively complex. Whether it's word-of-mouth, social media, announcements by local organizations, flyers, or any of a million other ways to spread the word, you have to let people know that you're putting on training, what it's about, when and where it will be, and why they should show up! Don't be afraid to keep things small, especially early on - if you conduct excellent training that fills a real need in your community, promoting future events will become easier as news spreads.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Know who your audiences are - you probably have more than one! You will likely need a different strategy to reach each specific audience effectively.
  • Involve others - partnerships with community members and organizations can allow you to reach communities through people or groups they already know and trust.
  • Emphasize how what you're offering fits real, immediate needs in the community, and how attendees stand to gain.
  • Talk to people! Chat with as many people as possible before and after your trainings, or in other contexts. Try to understand who is attending your events, and why - and more importantly, who isn't and why.


This is the visible step, and is frequently mistaken as the only part necessary for training (though you know by now that isn't true - a lot of effort goes into things which are ultimately invisible if done well). Nonetheless, this is the step where your cadre first directly interacts with the community, and the step that nearly everything else you do is meant to support.

As with the other steps, there are whole libraries of information on teaching and learning that  we don't have time to dive into here. However, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Wherever possible, break up lectures with practical exercises, group discussions, demonstrations, or other activities other than sitting and listening to help prevent the entire class from blending together in students' minds and to keep them active and engaged.
  • Build on the course content as you go - start with simple concepts, and refer back to them regularly as you explain more complex concepts later on.
  • Students should always be prepared to succeed in activities or exercises. Start with simple, low-risk activities to build students' trust that this is a safe learning environment in which they're not being set up to fail.
  • Know the type of event you're hosting, and what you need to do to make it succeed. If it's a training event, you need to be prepared to teach directly to students, and guide the entire event end-to-end. If it's a workshop, you're not training, you're facilitating - and the attendees are the ones guiding the event. These require very different styles and sets of skills, so be ready for whichever one you'll be doing!
  • If more than one cadre member will be involved in the event, rehearse ahead of time and make sure expectations, roles, and responsibilities are clear. Ideally, establish communication signals ahead of time so you don't have to break to confer mid-event.

Follow Up

Your work isn't over when attendees leave the event! Without any follow-up, your cadre is not getting everything it can out of the effort taken to host events, and neither are the attendees. High-quality, lasting learning happens over time, not all at once, so following up with participants helps refresh the concepts in their minds and encourage them to apply their training in their community. For the cadre, building connections with the community is critical - after all, the cadre is here to serve the community, and can't do that without getting to know the people in that community.

The document below from the CDC has some ideas for how to conduct follow-up, organized by difficulty - in both cost and time. At the lowest end, things like ensuring that attendees are aware of your website or how to reach the cadre in the future can lead to further classes and connections, while higher-effort work like hosting a series of related events or higher-level trainings with prerequisites can be incredibly rewarding if that commitment is sustainable.

Planning for follow-up should include four components:

  1. A summary of the follow-up support, including its objectives (helping participants retain a specific new skill, helping spread word of the cadre, encouraging participants to apply their learning, etc.)
  2. Detailed description of what support activities will be conducted and when - before, during, or after the event
  3. A plan that includes next steps for each support activity and who will carry it out
  4. A timeline that indicates when support activities will be carried out - both when they start, and when they stop

A follow-up support toolkit is available below if you're interested in more in-depth information about planning and executing follow-up support.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the exact support you provide will vary based on the type of events you hold and your objectives. The most important support after a train-the-trainer event might be technical assistance to help new trainers host their first event - by having a cadre member present to co-teach, helping with logistics such as finding a location or time to host the event, promoting the event, and more. Once again, this support is key - training trainers doesn't matter if they never go on to train others!


The next article in this series will cover evaluation of your efforts - but here's a preview of the kinds of questions you should be keeping in mind:

  • Start with the end in mind - what are the learning objectives for attendees? How can you determine if they're being met?
  • How will you know if participants are using the new knowledge or skills they're learning?
  • What methods of feedback are available to you? This can be as simple as "ask people," but you need to have some form of feedback to know if you're succeeding.


That was a LOT of information. If you're interested in other sources and ways to learn, much of this is drawn from a CDC course titled "Professional Development 101: The Basics" which you can find at and has videos and activities meant to reinforce your learning.

A PDF with the full transcript of that course is available below.

Taking action is where "the rubber meets the road," as it were. It's a lot to keep in mind! In this article we covered ideas for your mechanism of change - hosting events yourself, offering technical assistance to others, or others specific to your local situation. Events themselves can vary wildly, from training to workshops to information sessions to training other trainers.

Once you've moved on to planning and running events, don't forget that you're trying to build a sustainable training infrastructure by designing training materials, promoting events, delivering high-quality training, providing follow-up support to attendees, and evaluating your efforts to continually improve them.

It's a lot to keep in mind, but the payoff is wildly worth it. The last article, up next, will cover how to evaluate your efforts to find out how effective the cadre is and how to improve it.