ELEVATE: Implementation of a Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Program by a Statewide Cooperative Extension Service
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
- Implementing a statewide program through Extension required system building and cultural shifts.
- UF used data and technology to adapt its recruitment and enrollment strategies as needed.
- ELEVATE engaged couples with highly relevant content and flexible options to make up missed sessions.
This process study report, part of the Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services (STREAMS) evaluation, presents findings on the implementation of the University of Florida’s (UF) ELEVATE program in six counties across the state. UF delivered ELEVATE through its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) county-based Cooperative Extension Service (Extension). ELEVATE is a popular curriculum for adult couples of all ages who may or may not be married. It was developed as part of the Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Initiative for delivery through Extension and other organizations. The curriculum has two primary goals: (1) to teach couples practical strategies and tools to maintain a healthy relationship and (2) to develop mindfulness practices that help couples regulate their physiological responses to conflict and stress.
ACF’s Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) with funding from OFA contracted with Mathematica and its partner Public Strategies to rigorously evaluate a text-messaging intervention designed to boost attendance in ELEVATE. Due to the focus of the impact study on couples’ attendance, in this report we emphasize the strategies UF used to recruit couples and encourage their attendance and participation. We also highlight other aspects of implementation, including strategies for delivering a statewide program through Extension and characteristics of the counties in which ELEVATE operated.