The OMI set out to accomplish several objectives in its quest to make marriage education services widely accessible and widely used. It aimed to reach out to specific population groups, engage the involvement of a broad range of societal sectors and institutions, and blanket the state with its messages and services. While the OMI is an ongoing initiative and continues to grow and develop, in this section we briefly take stock of its accomplishments so far.
The OMI has aspired to saturating society making services so widely available, and so well known, that throughout Oklahoma they will be accepted and sought by a substantial portion of the population. The degree of saturation achieved can be considered in terms of the location and availability of existing services, the operation of workshops, the number of participants per region, and the backgrounds of people who participate.
- Numbers reached. Based on data collected by the OMI, between 5 and 10 percent of Oklahoma households have participated in an OMI workshop. A total of about 122,134 individuals had been served by the end of 2007, through 7,078 workshops.
- Geographic spread. The OMI has succeeded in achieving a degree of geographic spread that roughly reflects the states urban and rural population densities. At least to some extent, it has reached nearly every county of the state, judging by the locations of trained workshop leaders and participants.
Reaching the General Oklahoma Population and Specific Groups
As a statewide initiative, the OMI intends to develop a broad supply of services that can be accessed by any resident, regardless of relationship status or circumstance. However, it also had good reason to make special efforts to reach some populations.
- Youth. More than half of all workshop participants have been youth, including 55,000 high school students residing in nearly every county of the state and more than 10,000 juvenile offenders. The OMI has focused on this population group because youth represent the next generation of families and thus have substantial potential for leading the kind of societal change sought by the initiative. Concern about the relatively young age at first marriage in Oklahoma has also fueled interest in serving youth.
- Low-income groups. Almost 15 percent of workshop participants have been low-income and at-risk individuals in a range of circumstances, from TANF recipients to prison inmates. The OMI has placed an emphasis on this group because of policy and economic concerns and because low-income populations have had little access to information about developing strong relationships and marriages.
- Couples. About 24 percent of OMI participants are estimated to have been couples over the period studied. Married and unmarried couples are obvious targets of any marriage initiative, and in the OMI they have generally been served within faith, counseling, or community service settings. Couples have also participated in workshops intended for adoptive parents, or in a large-scale community event focused on relationship skills education.