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The 2018 Urban Light Ministries Strategic Plan reviews the organization’s history and strengths and identifies opportunities to develop a vision and direction enabling the organization to expand its achievement in fatherhood awareness, education, and improving families.

History

Urban Light Ministries is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was established over 25 years ago with the mission of increasing the number of responsible fathers, nurtured children and strong families in Jesus’ name. The primary programs offered by the organization include community-based fatherhood programs such as “Nurturing Father’s for Life” (NFL) and elementary student ministries – Sonshine Clubs.

The work of the organization is currently community-based in the Springfield, Ohio, and greater Clark County area.

Need

Urban Light Ministries was a pioneer in addressing a growing systemic problem in America: the need for a father in a child’s life. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of three – live without their biological father in the home. Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the societal ills facing America today. Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home he or she is affected in the following ways:(i)
  • 4 times greater risk of poverty
  • 7 times more likely to become pregnant as a teen
  • More likely to have behavioral problems
  • More likely to face abuse and neglect
  • 2 time greater risk of infant mortality
  • More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
  • 2 times more likely to suffer obesity
  • 2 times more likely to drop out of high school
  • More likely to commit a crime and go to prison

Urban Light Ministries was established to address this crisis. Research now proves that fatherhood programs, similar to those developed and implemented by Urban Light Ministries, improve outcomes and children:(ii)
  • Perform better in school, both academically and socially
  • Have higher self esteem and lower rates of depression
  • Less likely to display aggressive or hyperactive behaviors
  • Less likely to engage in high risk behaviors (e.g., drugs, truancy), and
  • Boys are more likely to become responsible fathers themselves

Resource Focus

Through the leadership of Eli Williams, Urban Light Ministries has focused its efforts over the last 25 years in increasing awareness and support of fatherhood initiatives in the greater Clark County Ohio area. Some of the major initiatives include:

  • Establishment of SALT Club, a Christian leadership development and community service club in 1998
  • Opened resource center on S. Yellow Spring St. in 1997 to provide local services including food pantry, free physicians’ ministry, community meals and “Adopt-a Block” program
  • Acquired WBLY 1600 AM in 2002 to reach out to community through radio – was sold to Radio Maria in 2007
  • Regional programs partner with Urban Light Ministries including Marriage Resource Center (2007), Ohio Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families (2008), Ohio Commission on Fatherhood (2008), Clark County Board of Commissioners (2009), and Montgomery County DJFS Fatherhood Initiative (2010)
  • Raises awareness through establishment of Celebrate Fatherhood Clark County and the “My Dad Rocks” contest
  • Leadership role in authoring the Community Fatherhood Policy for Clark County
  • Awarded funding through Ohio Commission on Fatherhood for POPs Project.
  • Announced as leader in Fatherhood Clark County community mobilization initiative
  • Urban Light Ministries selected as primary location for the Fatherhood Clark County Fathers Resource Center
  • Established community-based annual father recognition event – FatherFest – and coordinated annually since 2010
  • Eli Williams publishes Father Love book and an accompanying Study Guide in 2016 to provide a biblically-based resource focused on the critical need for biological fathers in a child’s life.

Current Programs

Fatherhood Programs

Urban Light Ministries currently provides resources and training for community-based programs that focus on developing tools to create a safe, loving, stable and nurturing family environment. Sessions are held in a group setting with experienced, certified practitioners. Participants learn how to achieve cooperation and teamwork in family life, proven conflict resolution, and problem-solving strategies, effective family communication techniques to strengthen father-child and father-mother relationships and positive discipline tools. Some of the programs include POPs 101, On My Shoulders, NFL, and Father Love.

Children’s Ministry

The Sonshine Club has been providing Bible-based afterschool programs to elementary age children for over 25 years. The program is a high-energy, fun, attention-grabbing, life-impacting ministry that seeks to engage elementary school-age children by interacting with them in a comfortable and family environment. For one hour after school, volunteers bring the message of Jesus Christ through prayer, activities, Bible stories and verses. The program begins with a short prayer, then a high-energy game or activity. Teachings from the Bible are included as well as a chance to earn special treats and prizes.



[i]
 National Fatherhood Initiative, Fatherfacts 7, 2017

[ii] Annie E. Casey Foundation, Promoting Responsible Fatherhood, ATARC Resource Guide, 2005

Building on Opportunities

Urban Light Ministries has over 25 years of experience developing and implementing programs that meet the needs of fathers and children.  A SWOT analysis has determined ways to use the strengths built over the years to address the new opportunities associated with reaching the target audiences.

SWOT Analysis

The analysis revealed the need for fatherhood programs addressing the absence of fathers in the family and training fathers to be better role models is more critical now than it was when Urban Light Ministries began.

One of the newest opportunities is the use of digital media to reach the target audience. Technology, through online training, smartphone apps, and social media awareness, has opened the channels for communicating with this market. Urban Light Ministries strengths in program development and broadcasting positions it to use the latest technology to enhance its program reach. This change to move more communications through these new online channels will better leverage the resources (financial and people) to reach a larger audience.

Weaknesses, including lack of funding and volunteers, can be minimized through better leveraging current resources and proving to potential funders an improved program impacting more fathers and families.

 

 

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“Turning the hearts of fathers to their children and children’s hearts to the Father.”



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