Public Strategies has more than 13 years’ experience managing the nation’s largest and longest-running statewide healthy marriage initiative, delivering marriage and relationship education to diverse populations in an array of settings, resulting in the country’s largest learning lab for marriage education. The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI) is touted by national researchers, policymakers and program operators as the epitome of innovation within the human services field. Program developers, evaluators and media representatives from around the world have traveled to Oklahoma to learn about this groundbreaking, family-strengthening effort.
The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI) is a statewide, multi-sector effort designed to improve the well-being and safety of children by strengthening marriages and relationships. The system boasts a statewide service delivery system which includes approximately 3,500 professional and paraprofessional community volunteers that deliver services and normalize help-seeking in their communities. Additionally, educational services are integrated within a variety of existing agency and community services, and staff develop community events to accomplish large-scale capacity for a variety of populations. Through these varied programs and strategies, more than 300,000 Oklahomans have benefited from OMI’s services.
With a core philosophy of providing access to free-of-charge services and supports to both couples and individuals who are married or plan to marry, with a special effort focused on serving low-income populations, OMI implements strategies and services that are tailored to the needs of youth, incarcerated men and women, new parents, fathers, youthful offenders, cultural groups, high-risk families, business employees and employers, and individuals preparing for relationships.
Research Advisory Group
Since inception, the OMI has been guided by a panel of state and national experts on marriage, divorce, and low-income families. This interdisciplinary Research Advisory Group (RAG) includes academic scholars, university-based practitioners and researchers, and policy experts and evaluators who meet annually and sometimes contribute to other OMI research activities throughout the year. Their ongoing activities, including, for example, conducting small-scale studies of OMI programs and assisting in the development of dissemination materials that translate research findings for a broad audience, have two main benefits: they provide data on which the OMI can base continued development and improvement of program operations, and they lend credibility to and build awareness of the OMI within and outside of Oklahoma.