An Introduction to Program Design and Implementation Characteristics of Federally Funded Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Grantees

Marriage and relationship education programs are designed to promote family well-being by helping individuals and couples develop skills and knowledge for stable, good-quality relationships. To support marriage and relationship education, the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) funded three cohorts of healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) grantees— from 2006–2011, 2011–2015, and 2015–2020a,b—to offer services to a range of individuals and couples. This brief describes the characteristics of federally funded HMRE grantees and their implementation strategies. Specifically, it highlights the three cohorts (hereafter referred to as the 2006, 2011, and 2015 cohorts, respectively) in terms of the:

  • Number of grantees, funding amounts, and geographic locations
  • Types of organizations and service-delivery settings
  • Types of activities
  • Priority populations
  • Types of curricula used
  • HMRE program implementation

This brief will provide researchers and practitioners with information about ACF’s priorities related to HMRE and describe how the landscape of federally funded HMRE programs has evolved over three cohorts of grantees. It also provides information about the diversity of implementation strategies used by HMRE grantees and the extent to which grantees engage ACF’s priority populations.

The details provided are based on our review of federal funding opportunity announcements; grantee profiles; a 2015 HMRE grantee database (FastTRAC)c; data from the Information, Family Outcomes, Reporting, and Management (nFORM) information system used by the 2015 cohort of HMRE grantees; OFA’s website; and other published resources. The amount of information available for each cohort varies, but when possible we provide information for all cohorts and describe how the characteristics have changed over time (see Data and Methods box). The brief concludes with a discussion of future research and evaluation priorities for ACF’s HMRE programming.

Footnotes

a Complete details about a 4th cohort of grantees, funded in September 2020, were not available in time to be included in this brief.

b Awards granted in 2006 and 2015 were for five years. Awards granted in 2011 were for three years but grantees received a no-cost extension for an additional year.

c FastTRAC is a database created from reportable profile information about each HMRE grantee funded in 2015 to offer quick and customizable access to grantee information. These data allow OFA and its contractors to identify trends and commonalities among grantees.