Rural Welcoming Initiative
Participants in the Rural Welcoming Initiative (RWI) access technical assistance and coaching, free Welcoming America membership, and ongoing learning opportunities to strengthen welcoming efforts in rural communities. Communities will be tasked with cultivating relationships, examining their current policies and programs, and aligning their local immigrant inclusion efforts to the Welcoming Standard.
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.
- Complimentary Welcoming Network membership. Each rural community will receive a free Core-level 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 7 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 phone 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 various programs and convenings.
- Free registration and travel support to the Welcoming Interactive. Each participating community will receive two complimentary registrations to attend the 2024 Welcoming Interactive (April 10-12 in Dallas, Texas) and a grant of up to $2,000 to offset the cost of travel to the conference.
- Local-to-local community partnerships. Each participant will be matched with another rural community for periodic one-on-one calls to engage in thought partnership and share experiences and perspectives with another rural community.
- Monthly office hours. Welcoming America will host virtual office hours each month in 2024 as an open space for rural Welcoming Network members to drop in and ask questions.