Rural Welcoming Initiative

Welcoming America is continuing its commitment to rural communities. Through a competitive initiative, we will engage 10 rural communities in strengthening welcoming.

Through technical assistance and coaching, free Welcoming America membership, and connections to peer communities, Rural Welcoming Initiative participants will cultivate belonging locally and become part of the larger welcoming movement.

Background

Immigrants and refugees come to this country searching for safety and opportunities for education, employment, and ultimately, to be part of a thriving community.  While some make the large cities of the U.S. their new homes, many follow the opportunities that present themselves in smaller cities and more rural parts of the country.

Rural communities have quite a bit to offer these newcomers: steady employment, a reasonable cost of living, social cohesion, and for many, the chance to live in a place that is similar in size to where they come from.  While newcomers may initially be drawn to rural places out of economic necessity, they stay when these smaller and more rural places start to become home. Immigrants and refugees feel welcomed when communities have created programs, partnerships, policies, and opportunities that engage them.

Rural areas need immigrants because their U.S.-born population is typically older and declining. Newcomers can help revitalize and add vibrancy to these rural communities.

The Opportunity

Welcoming America solicits applications from rural communities that are not yet members of Welcoming America but have an interest in deepening their welcoming practices.  Communities with populations less than 50,000 that are not considered suburbs of a metropolitan area are encouraged to apply.

Support Offered for 2023

  • Free Welcoming Network membership. Each rural community will receive a free 2022 core membership in the Welcoming Network.
  • Coaching and Technical Assistance. Each community will be eligible to receive 4 hours of individualized coaching and technical assistance to support their local work.
  • Peer Learning. Rural communities will be provided the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other through a variety of programs and convenings.

2022 Participants

  • West Central Initiative - Fergus Falls, MN
  • Immigrant Allies (Committee of Humans United for Equality) - Crawfordsville, IN
  • City of North Liberty - North Liberty, IA
  • YMCA at Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, VA
  • City of Gunnison - Gunnison, CO
  • Project FINE - Winona, MN
  • City of Owatonna - Owatonna, MN
  • Welcome BG - Bowling Green, OH
  • Town of Mansfield - Mansfield, CT
  • Empowering Families - Scottsbluff, NE