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FOAI: Taking Prevention Educators From Good To Great

December 14, 2016


Let’s face it. Ugly behavior abounds. On college campuses. Military bases. In the workplace and our communities in general. Yet, it’s hard enough to even acknowledge just how much people are perpetrating acts of sexual assault, harassment, racial discrimination, or violence—let alone have an honest, constructive dialogue about these issues. 

If this seems familiar, then the Force of Awesome Institute is for you.  

With over 15 years of experience creating transformative anti-violence programs, we bring a profound passion to starting these important conversations and do it in a very unexpected way.  

We designed the Force of Awesome Institute just for you: passionate, overworked individuals tasked with the enormous responsibility of teaching the toughest content out there. No matter your audience or subject matter, you deserve to be trained how to design and deliver the best content possible. You deserve that, and so do the communities you serve. 

FOAI uses best practices from research as well as trainers who collectively have over 50 years of experience in presenting and curriculum developmen in the movement to give participants the opportunity to learn, reflect and practice their skills in a respectful and dynamic learning environment.  


The Armed Force of Awesome Institute (Military): May 15 – 18


The Force of Awesome Institute Institute: July 17 – 20 



We asked Cara Thaxton, one of our FOAI coaches, some questions to learn more about this program:


  • Who should register to FOAI?

This training is specifically designed for anyone doing anti violence education on interpersonal violence.  This program was created because we saw a real need for prevention educators to have more training specifically around teaching. Most of us doing prevention work did not start out as teachers, we were advocates and so as prevention educators, most of us received the mandatory advocacy training around sexual/domestic violence advocacy, but did not have more training specifically on teaching this information, which is critical if we want to change our communities.  We are talking about things that most people don’t want to think or talk about, but in order to create a cultural shift we need to have these conversations and change the way folks see sexual violence. Good educational programming teaches us how to be critical consumers of cultural messaging that contributes to rape myths and victim blaming, and helps increase prosocial behaviors like correcting victim blaming or bystander intervention – FOAI can help teach you how to deliver prevention programming that does that.  

  • What would you say is the main goal of FOAI?

To give prevention Educators a training that is just for them. That works on improving their presentation style, streamlining the major points and follow up actions that audience members can use once they leave the presentation. This is a space for educators to get together, practice in front of each other (with feedback from peers and coaches) as well as a place for them to exchange their best practices. 

  • Can seasoned trainers benefit from this or is it only for new trainers?

We have had folks who had not even finished their 40 hour advocacy training come as well as those who have been doing this work for more than 10 years attend the training. Not only is this an opportunity for prevention educators to get coaching from professionals each with at least 15 years’ experience but they are also getting tips of the trade from their peers that are doing the same work. Then they can also take their new coaching skills back to their home offices and help others.  

  • What makes FOAI training unique?

This is the only training of its kind that I am aware of. Early in my career I worked in several community centers, having worked as both an advocate and educator. I am reminded of my own advocacy training and role plays and how much I hated doing them but the more I facilitated them the more I realized their importance. They give folks an opportunity to practice before they are with a client. That is similar to how I feel about what we do in FOAI –like when doing role plays  FOAI participants practice teaching in a neutral learning environment and receive feedback from the coaches and their peers, which makes them better prepared to go out and be the best teacher they can be.



“This was an incredibly valuable and life changing experience. You provided us with the tools to connect on a deeper level with our audience. You have truly impacted us forever.”

-Hannah Stark, Assistant Director, The VOICE Center at Montana State University


“The Force of Awesome Institute is like a boot camp for prevention educators, it’s intensive but it’s fun and it prepares you for a rewarding yet challenging road ahead in sexual violence prevention work.”

—Bianca Villani, Community Education and Outreach Program Director, Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico


“I was telling folks that this training is like getting trained on the internet by Bill Gates”

-Anne Ballensinger, trainee, Armed FOAI Feb 2017

Catharsis Productions

Catharsis Productions' mission is to change the world by producing innovative, accessible and 
research-supported programming that challenges oppressive attitudes and shifts behavior.