Students Design Marketing Plan for Clark County Fatherhood Initiative

by Public Relations

Addressing real-life challenges in the classroom, Cedarville University students are partnering with the Clark County Fatherhood Initiative to help the program develop a marketing plan to reach fathers in the Clark County region.

Based in Springfield, the Clark County Fatherhood Initiative is under the direction of Eli Williams and was established in 2009 by the Clark County Fatherhood Commission. The Clark County Fatherhood Commission has initiated other projects including an annual Celebrate Fatherhood event and an action plan to promote responsible fatherhood. The action plan was sponsored by the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood and was facilitated by the National Fatherhood Initiative established in 1994. The National Fatherhood Initiative is dedicated to giving children a brighter future by educating and engaging fathers, and the Clark County Initiative seeks to implement this vision by promoting responsible fatherhood in Ohio.

“The father absence rate in Springfield is 40 percent,” Williams said. “A range of programs and services are needed to increase the number of responsible fathers, because fathers matter greatly in the lives of children. When fathers are responsible, present and involved, children are more likely to experience academic success, avoid drug abuse, postpone sex and reject gang involvement, and they are less likely to be poor or to have emotional and behavioral problems.”

Williams and his team approached Cedarville University for assistance with their initiative, looking for guidance as they further develop the program. Cedarville’s director of community ministries, John Wambold, and faculty development specialist, Rebecca Mills, began working alongside Williams to identify his interests and the marketing needs of the program. Mills has begun training faculty members on how to use service-learning as an effective educational tool, and many faculty members joined the service-learning cohort in 2011. The group’s objective is to provide a service-learning case study of the Fatherhood Initiative that faculty members can work on together.

“This service-learning project provides opportunities for faculty to become invested in the initiative and engages students,” Mills said. “Cedarville student volunteers are an incredible source of collective intelligence and wisdom, and they work hard and are committed to ministry. We hope the experience will make a significant difference in the life of the students and create a few future volunteer task forces in the future.”

In the 2011 fall semester, Cedarville’s Principles of Marketing class began the process of assisting the initiative by developing a marketing plan for the organization. Under the direction of Bruce Stapleton, adjunct professor of business management and marketing, the project allowed students to apply basic principles of marketing to real-life settings. On December 8, 2011, the students presented their plan to Williams and the initiative members including the Family and Children First Council Executive Director Marilyn Demma and the Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes.

“This project allowed students to see firsthand how a real marketing plan is developed and presented to a client,” Stapleton said.

“We've looked at a real organization and found ways to help them make actual changes,” said Meredith Moline, a junior marketing major. “It has helped us to apply what we are learning in class to a real situation.”

“Marketing is more of an art than a science,” Stapleton said. “Like artists that must understand the science of color structure and dimensions, marketing professionals must understand the basic fundamentals before applying them. Having the opportunity to experiment in a structured environment in the application of marketing principles provides a much more in-depth insight and understanding than can be obtained by just reading a textbook.”

The Fatherhood Initiative of Clark County hopes to work with other departments at Cedarville such as education, health, criminal justice and Christian ministries in order to further address the issues associated with father absence in the region.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University attracts 3,200 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at