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.

Participation in the Rural Welcoming Initiative (RWI) provides access to technical assistance and coaching, free Welcoming America membership, and ongoing learning opportunities. 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.

Support Offered

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

  • Free 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 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.

2023 Participants

  • Catholic Charities of East Tennessee - Knoxville, TN
  • City of Denison - Denison, IA
  • City of Gunnison - Gunnison, CO
  • City of Wausau - Wausau, WI
  • Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque - Dubuque, IA
  • Emporia Spanish Speakers - Emporia, KS
  • Growing Lancaster - Lancaster, WI
  • Hope-Esperanza - North Platte, NE
  • Project FINE - Winona, MN
  • Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments - Price, UT
  • Southwest Initiative Foundation - Hutchinson, MN
  • West Central Initiative - Fergus Falls, MN
  • YMCA at Virginia Tech - Blacksburg, VA