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 access to ongoing learning opportunities such as our national conference, online resources, and connections to peer communities, participating communities will build inclusion and become part of the welcoming movement.


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 often 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 often thrive in return in part because their U.S.-born population is typically older, and newcomers often help revitalize and add vibrancy to 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.

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

Support Offered for 2022

Ten rural communities new to the Welcoming Network will receive the following support:

  • Free Welcoming Network membership. Each rural community will receive a free 2022 core membership in the Welcoming Network. Membership benefits include access to training, technical assistance, and peer exchange opportunities.
  • Coaching and Technical Assistance. Each community will be eligible to receive 4 hours of individualized coaching and technical assistance to support their local work.  Each will have a coach to help ensure their technical assistance needs are fully met. A coach from Welcoming America will provide regular telephone consultations to help rural communities establish welcoming goals, address challenges, and connect to helpful resources, as appropriate.
  • Peer Learning. Rural communities will be provided the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other through a variety of programs and convenings.

Proposal Review Criteria

  • Evidence of strong interest and readiness to join the Welcoming Network
  • Track record of working to advance inclusion in the community
  • Evidence of being able to convene and engage a diverse set of residents of different backgrounds
  • A promising approach to advancing welcoming work in rural communities
  • Population less than 50,000 in a city that is not considered a suburb of a metropolitan area
  • Commitment to advance at least one of the following actions in the 2022 membership year: