The Rio Grande Academy (RGA) is the District 5520 part of The Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI). The purpose of RLI is to provide an educational opportunity for Rotarians identified as potential leaders. Specifically, RLI seeks to have Rotary clubs in its member districts identify those Rotarians who appear to have the potential for future club leadership (not necessarily as club presidents) and provide those so identified with a quality education in Rotary knowledge and leadership skills so important in voluntary organizations.

The program was founded by South Florida Rotarians in 1992.  Today more than 30 Rotary districts in North America now use the program. District 5520 joined the initiative in the spring of 2011. Club presidents will be asked to nominate club members to participate in the program. A series of courses will be provided by District 5520 each year. These courses are designed to foster Rotary knowledge and understanding while also helping participants develop leadership skills that will serve them in their club, district and beyond.

What are the Courses?
The Rotary Leadership  courses in three full-day sessions, with each session approximately 6 – 8 weeks apart.  Some examples of course sessions include “Insights into Leadership," "Engaging Members," "Our Foundation," "Service Projects," "Strategic Planning and Analysis," "Club Communication," "International Service," Effective Leadership Strategies," and "Public Image and Public Relations.

Where will the courses be held?
Currently, four RLI training teams have been established because our district is so widespread.  There are training teams covering the Central, North, East, and South district geographic areas.  The object of so many training areas is to allow all attendees to travel to and from the training site in a single day. Each training team will schedule courses in their area, but club members from other areas of the district will be welcome to attend.  The actual location of the training sites will be publicized on the district website in advance of the training date.
We also conduct classes online, over a two- or three-day weekend when all three sessions can be held sequentially, and at the District Conference.
All RGA classes are posted on the District website for registration.

Who will be doing the training?
Over 30 Rotarians from our district were formally certified as RLI facilitators during a full-day training session conducted by a member of the national Rotary Leadership Institute in Albuquerque on June 11, 2011.  All have had leadership experience at the club level, and many have held leadership positions in the district.  Since that initial training, a number of RGA graduates have agreed to serve as facilitators, which keeps the sessions fresh and interesting for the new participants.

Who should be selected to attend?
Clubs should nominate those members who appear to have the potential for club leadership in the next three to four years.  Nominees should have a strong interest in Rotary and be ready to learn about the larger world of Rotary.  Clubs are encouraged to nominate one or two members each year and support the nominees in completing the three-part course.  Recently, new Rotarians have shown an interest in taking RGA classes, which we fully support. 

What is the cost?
The course fee is typically $35 per registrant for each course session - $105 for all three sessions. Participants will receive their meals (breakfast and lunch), and binders containing a wide variety of training materials.  The fees also pay for the meeting space, audio-visual equipment, promotional and other expenses. RLI recommends that clubs budget for and fund the training for their members – two to four per year, depending on club size.

Why should our club participate?
If your club cares about its future it will want the best leadership possible.  This is an outstanding opportunity for each club to improve the Rotary knowledge of its key people.  These courses also expose participants to successful new ideas on leadership.  The exchange of ideas with other experienced Rotarians alone makes the courses worthwhile.

Where can I learn more?
Click on the links at the left to learn more about the Rio Grande Academy.   You can also contact the RGA District Coordinator, Jesse Allen at