from the Smart Marriages e-newslist


What a great way to celebrate Marriage Week USA.

See Sec 103 for a description of the HHS/ACF healthy marriage promotion grant. The
grant is for $100 million dollars a year for five years (plus another $50 million for responsible
fatherhood funding for reconnecting fatherhood and marriage) for which states, tribal

organizations and territories can apply to provide any of the following
eight allowable activities:

> 1 Public advertising campaigns on the value of marriage and the skills
> needed to increase marital stability and health.
> 2 Education in high schools on the value of marriage, relationship skills,
> and budgeting.
> 3 Marriage education, marriage skills, and relationship skills programs,
> that may include parenting skills, financial management, conflict resolution,
> and job and career advancement, for non-married pregnant women and non-married
> expectant fathers.
> 4 Pre-marital education and marriage skills training for engaged couples
> and for couples or individuals interested in marriage.
> 5 Marriage enhancement and marriage skills training programs for married
> couples.
> 6 Divorce reduction programs that teach relationship skills.
> 7 Marriage mentoring programs which use married couples as role models and
> mentors in at-risk communities.
> 8 Programs to reduce the disincentives to marriage in means-tested aid
> programs, if offered in conjunction with any activity described in this
> subparagraph.
Section 115 explains that both PUBLIC and PRIVATE entities are eligible to
apply for these funds. That means you. However, as I've been nagging you
all year, the federal government isn't going to give grants to individual -
or even to individual organizations. You need to put together a broad-based
local coalition made up of faith-based, welfare, education, mental health,
extension, business, media, etc sectors that would help you implement your
local marriage strengthening initiative. You don't have to include all of
these sectors, but the more the better.

To get started, choose clear, positive goals around which you can rally
potential coalition partners. Arrange meetings and formulate a mission
statement. Use positive goals, rather than negatives - i.e., instead of
"reduce divorce rate" say "Increase the numbers of couples in our community
who are in healthy marriages." Others goals might be:

- Increase the number of children who are raised by parents who have a
healthy marriage.

- Increase the number of premarital couples who are equipped with the
skills and knowledge that will increase their chances of forming and
sustaining healthy marriages.

- Increase the number of youth who have the skills and knowledge to make
informed decisions about relationships and can start practicing the skills
that will later help them form and sustain healthy marriages.

- Increase public awareness about the value of healthy marriages to men,
women, children and the community.

- Increase public awareness about the skills and knowledge that will
increase peoples chances of having a healthy marriage.

- Increase the number of trained marriage educators in the community and the
numbers of courses available to all sectors.

- Increase the number of trained mentor couples who can help
other couples through the rough spots.

And so on. If you've been on this list for any length of time, you know
what you need to do. Search the newslist archive for past posts about
Coalition building. Order tapes from last year's conference - specifically
from the "Strengthening Marriage In Your Community" package (see below)
which spell out the steps. Also plan to attend the Smart Marriages
conference where a many sessions will be devoted to getting you up to speed
and where you will be able to get individual advice and consultation on your
plan. With this legislation now in process, there is more reason than ever
to create readiness. They money will be appropriated, but if you don't have
multi-sector community networks in place you're not going to be ready to
receive it. - diane

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