Oklahoma Family Policy Council (OFPC), one of 36 state-based, nonprofit groups associated with the international family-strengthening organization Focus on the Family, announced today that it will cease its operations on March 31, 2011.
“This decision was not entered into lightly. For the past several years our funding has been inconsistent thus making it difficult at times to maintain our monthly budget without the Board providing significant additional funds,” said OFPC Executive Director Mike Jestes.
“Further complicating our financial picture was a 2009 decision by the current Administration and Congress to de-fund some existing federal grants we had to teach abstinence in Central Oklahoma and Tulsa. After pursuing grants from private Oklahoma foundations, and after asking our current supporters for additional funding, we have come to the difficult decision to close our doors.”
Founded in 1989 as Resource Institute of Oklahoma, Inc., the Oklahoma not-for-profit corporation changed its name in 1995 to Oklahoma Family Policy Council to better reflect its central emphasis on education, research, programs, and projects to help strengthen Oklahoma’s families, to encourage responsible citizenship, and to articulate Judeo-Christian values. The state House of Representatives will honor the group’s work with a resolution on Thursday morning.
Among the Council’s better-known programs was KEEP (Kids Eagerly Endorsing Purity), an abstinence-until-marriage educational program for students aged 12-20. Since 1999, volunteer teachers trained by OFPC have taught KEEP in some 250 public schools in Central Oklahoma and Tulsa County to over 60,000 Oklahoma young people. The Council’s second office in Tulsa was closed in 2010.
Other citizens are familiar with OFPC because of its programs to strengthen fatherhood and marriage. OFPC has partnered with the National Center for Fathering, and was involved in the Oklahoma marriage summit hosted by former Gov. Frank and First Lady Cathy Keating in 1999.
Recently, OFPC has worked with Marriage Network Oklahoma to help Oklahoma’s churches to develop comprehensive marriage ministries and with the state legislature on policies to prevent family fragmentation.
Many are familiar with the Council’s nonpartisan voters’ guides, produced every two years, and with OFPC’s First Things Banquet, held annually at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Since 2003, OFPC has also led the Oklahoma Pro-Life Media Coalition and has held annual pro-life luncheons at the state Capitol, most recently on Feb. 24.
Besides Jestes, who has led OFPC since 1998, other executive directors associated with OFPC have included Terry Allen, a former chief-of-staff to then Rep. Steve Largent, and Bill Held, now a regional development director for the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. OFPC Research & Project Director David Dunn has also worked with the Council since 1990.
“Oklahoma is a conservative state, and Oklahomans are people of faith,” Jestes added. “We have always been a grassroots effort and knew that God’s provision is key in leading this fight. We believe that nothing less than excellence is required to defend the family. Let us all continue to pray and get behind those organizations that defend family values in our great state!”