Rotary Cadre: Nurturing Expertise for Sustainable Community Economic Development 

By Wally Gardiner

Former Communications Director,  RAGCED
Past President, RC of High River
As the outgoing CADRE Technical Officer /TRF, I have been asked to relate some information on what exactly is the CADRE of Technical Advisors. I have been doing this volunteer job on behalf of the Rotary Foundation for almost ten years. The primary mission and purpose of the Rotary Cadre is to serve as a group of highly skilled and experienced Rotarians who provide technical expertise and support to Rotary International in various areas such as water and sanitation, disease prevention, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and, of course, community and economic development (CED). The aim is to strengthen and enhance the impact of Rotary projects worldwide, to provide stewardship of funded grants, and to assist with research to improve the process of getting a grant.
You might well ask, what does the CADRE do specifically for the Rotary Action Group for Community Economic Development (RAGCED)?
Cadre members that belong to RAGCED, contribute to RAGCED's larger goals and initiatives by providing specialized knowledge and technical assistance to ensure the success and sustainability of community development projects. We help design community assessments, formulate measurement and evaluation plans, and offer advice on grants management. This collaboration helps RAGCED fulfill its mission of addressing complex social and economic issues through Rotary initiatives.
Examples of successful projects or interventions facilitated by the Rotary Cadre include clean water and sanitation initiatives in underserved communities, healthcare programs to combat diseases like polio, and educational projects focused on improving literacy and vocational skills. Within RAGCED, Cadre members have also played a critical role in empowering communities to develop sustainable economic opportunities.  A good example of this was the recent collaboration between Cadre members in Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Ecuador to bring to fruition a sewing workshop project in the coastal city of Manta in Ecuador. Working together, Cadre members Amalia Calderon, José Antonio Gonzales, and Wally Gardiner, co-ordinated funding, refined grant applications, organized support from several Districts and Clubs, and successfully launched the project which will provide training and skills development, and future jobs to many dis-enfranchised youth in Ecuador.  The project was purposefully designed to be replicated in other Districts and is now being explored by a Club in Argentina. 
Exciting stuff, and the major reason for being a CADRE; doing good in the world by working collaboratively and helping surmount obstacles in the grant process.  Many times, grants will be rejected by the Foundation for various reasons and CADRE members are quick to help resolve those kinds of problems, by advising on how to do a proper community assessment, write a measurement and evaluation plan, or help define sustainability in a grant proposal.   From the stewardship angle, we help the Foundation be accountable for money raised by Rotarians for International projects. When a grant award exceeds $50,000 USD, the Foundation will send a CADRE member to review the project.  It’s usually for a period of 3 days, which can mean a grueling schedule of interviews, speeches, chats with project organizers, and of course, talks with the project beneficiaries. Reports are delivered to the local Club and the Foundation, which ensure that Rotary dollars (your money) are being used correctly according to Rotary policies. 
The selection process for individuals to become part of the Rotary Cadre is rigorous and competitive.  To become a Cadre candidate, you should have technical skills and professional experience in a particular Area of Focus, experience with Global Grants, possibly some foreign language skills, and a commitment to Rotary's values.  All Cadre members do ongoing professional development courses, some of which are mandatory, and they also undergo an assessment process and further training to become Cadre Technical advisers.  This training helps ensure that Cadre members are well-prepared to assist in Rotary projects effectively.  To find out more, check the CADRE web page, where you can apply online, or email Presently they are looking for:
  • Arabic-speaking financial auditors in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East
  • Spanish and Portuguese-speaking financial auditors in North and South America
  • Community economic development experts in the Middle East and Eastern and Central Europe
  • Environment experts in the Middle East and Eastern and Central Europe
  • Disease prevention and treatment experts with specializations in cardiology and ophthalmology in South Asia
  • Maternal and Child Health Experts in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Basic education and literacy experts in Central America, Asia, and Eastern and Central Europe
So, if that’s you, the Cadre wants to hear from you.  It’s not a paid position, ( I jokingly tell people I make SIXTY minutes an hour) other than the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to make the world a better place for a lot of people.  Cadre members typically possess expertise in various fields, including engineering, healthcare, education, and business. They bring skills such as project management, technical knowledge, and community development experience to the table, enabling them to provide valuable guidance and support.
Looking ahead, the future goals and aspirations of Rotary Cadre involve expanding their reach and impact, recruiting and training more Cadre technical advisers, in specific fields, and continuing to support Rotary's initiatives to address global challenges. They aim to further strengthen the collaboration with Rotary clubs and Districts, and enable the Foundation to increase the social impact of projects. We know, as Rotarians, that we are doing good work, but with the help of the Cadre, we can do good- better!