Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): A Process Evaluation: Research Brief. What Lessons can be Drawn from the OMI Experience about Going to Scale?

12/01/2008

The OMI has been working to reach a broad state population. This effort to scale up the initiative has yielded three general lessons of potential value to other states:

Saturation is likely to require a multi-modal approach.  The OMI has found different ways to engage communities, agency staff, and individual volunteers. Each method has reached different segments and levels of society, and each has had distinct advantages and challenges. Training institutional staff gave the OMI efficient access to large numbers of participants, such as students and low-income or at-risk groups, who otherwise would be difficult to reach. Individual community volunteers brought a grass-roots element to the initiative and helped to spread the message. Large-scale community events both stimulated awareness and provided an alternative for individuals who otherwise might not attend a full-length workshop.

Ongoing effort is needed to maintain a volunteer workforce.  Although many people volunteered to be trained, relatively few went on to lead workshops. About one-third of trained workshop leaders, whether institutional or individual, ever led a workshop.(2)  Most workshops therefore were conducted by a small cadre of highly active individuals. Because of high turnover, developing, growing, and maintaining a volunteer workforce required an ongoing effort to recruit, manage, and motivate volunteers and sustain their interest.

Decentralization of state-level agencies may require an individualized approach to agency partnerships.  Commitment from state-level leadership is not necessarily a guarantee of action within some public systems. When state agencies are decentralized and local offices have substantial autonomy, issues might have to be addressed with management at each regional or county-level location. In Oklahoma, so far decentralization has meant that in agencies or institutions with a statewide infrastructure implementation is sometimes still partial.

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