Advancing Welcome Across the Globe: Welcoming International

As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Founding of Welcoming America, there has never been a more urgent time for welcomers around the world to come together, and we are gratified to see the global work thrive and grow stronger every day! Today, around 250 communities around the world are part of the international Welcoming movement!

In the last 10 years of our work at Welcoming America, we’ve found that communities striving to become welcoming – no matter their size, population, migration history, or location – have so much to learn from one another. In the last five years, we’ve recognized that those learnings are also very much internationally applicable. From formally connecting communities across the United States and Germany and watching new trans-Atlantic inclusion approaches take root, to witnessing the excitement around and innovative adaptation of the U.S. Welcoming Standard in so many different national contexts, we continue to appreciate that American welcomers have as much to learn from practitioners around the world as we have to share with them. 

This is why in 2018 we formalized the Welcoming International program, to connect leaders and help communities around the globe transform themselves into more inclusive places for all. After all, Welcoming – and its opposites: intolerance and hate – are global constructs. These ideas do not stop at international borders, as global nationalist and xenophobic movements know all too well. Therefore, in order to advance welcoming anywhere – and reduce intolerance and hate – we must do what we can to connect local welcomers everywhere.  

Now, a little over a year since the formal launch of the Welcoming International program, we’ve experienced exciting progress. This work continues to grow in the U.S. and is taking firm root in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand – thanks to our Founding Partners. Interest is also advancing in places like Portugal, Denmark, Greece, Mexico, and Columbia. Some of our partners’ city networks have doubled or even tripled in size; the Welcoming Standard has been adapted and launched in Australia and New Zealand, with a draft complete in Germany, Greece, and in the works in the United Kingdom; Welcoming Week has spread to countries like Slovenia; an international membership tier launched for the Welcoming Network; and we held our first-ever international cohort gathering in Berlin in the fall of 2018. 

Charting the Next 10 Years of Welcoming International

As communities across the globe continue to adjust for demographic shifts that are inevitable with aging populations – as well as other realities such as climate change, competition for global talent, and rising nationalism and xenophobia – nations and localities will need to continue to look to each other for good ideas, opportunities for collaboration, and increased resources. Welcoming International looks forward to continuing to convene these conversations and collaborations, and to continue to help welcoming spread worldwide. 

Recent Stories of Impact from our Founding Partners

Through this period of growth, learning, and expansion for our organization, and the movement as a whole, we’ve been reminded and humbled by the fact that none of this would be possible without incredible partners and members. Here’s a peek into what a few of them have going on as of late: 

Over the last five months, PHINEO and Bertelsmann Stiftung have worked with three municipal governments and their multi-sector partners to pilot the newly developed self-assessment instrument, “Selbstcheck Weltoffene Kommune”.The project recently received confirmation to expand the self-assessment project in approximately 40 cities across Germany. The project application was accepted by the German Government, who will be funding the project’s expansion. 

Did you know: We co-hosted a 3-year Welcoming Communities Exchange Program between inclusion practitioners in the United States and Germany. Here’s what one of our members had to say about the experience: 

“Participating in transatlantic learning opportunities through Welcoming International has allowed Los Angeles to share how we’ve approached the challenge of helping unaccompanied children become part of Los Angeles and to learn first-hand how cities in Germany are also rising to the challenge. We all have so much to learn from each other in this rapidly shifting environment.” Linda Lopez, Chief, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of Los Angeles

Welcoming Cities, an initiative of Welcoming Australia, is working with a diverse range of stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities of migration for regional, rural and remote communities. Approximately 45 percent of Local Government Areas (municipalities) in Australia are grappling with population and economic decline. The Regional Australia Institute and Scanlon Foundation, have  developed a toolkit to assist these regions in understanding the practical steps they can take to successfully attract and retain migrants through welcoming and inclusive strategies. Learn More

Did you know: Welcoming Australia’s welcoming network is now the fastest growing in the world.They’ve gone from 0 municipal members, to 35, in just three years. Australia was also the first country outside the U.S. to develop a Welcoming Standard.

New Zealand 
Welcoming Communities (New Zealand) celebrated its own milestone in June 2019, with the end of its two-year pilot program. Since July 2017, ten local government councils (municipalities) across five regions have worked with their communities and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to introduce, promote and deliver their welcoming  program. The program may expand in 2019/20 to adopt more councils. The vision is to engage more than half of all New Zealand’s city, district and regional councils for intentionally advancing welcoming and inclusion by 2023.

Did you know: Welcoming New Zealand is the first national Welcoming initiative to be led by a central government agency. The Welcoming Communities Program, led by Immigration New Zealand, is currently doing deep work in five cities/regions in New Zealand, with plans to scale the work to many other cities/regions in the future.

United Kingdom
Our Founding Partner Inclusive Cities, led by the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity at Oxford University’s COMPAS, is working with U.K. cities to achieve a “step change” in their approach to the inclusion of newcomers at the local level. Here’s a quote from their Director Jacqueline Broadhead, on an exchange between communities in their Inclusive Cities network and those in the Welcoming America Network (Pittsburgh and Montgomery County, MD).

“Six U.K. cities participated in a transatlantic learning exchange with Welcoming International – visiting Pittsburgh and Montgomery County, Maryland and learning first hand from innovative projects and approaches which they are now applying to their own contexts and practice. The ability to share and learn through the Welcoming International network is integral to the success of Inclusive Cities.” Jacqueline Broadhead, Director, Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity, University of Oxford

Learn More and Engage

Learn more about the Welcoming International program on our webpage, where you can also find more detailed descriptions of each of our country partners. 

Check out the U.S. Welcoming Standard, the Australian Welcoming Cities Standard, and the New Zealand Welcoming Communities Standard for inspiration. 

Learn more about the international membership tier of the Welcoming Network, and reach out if you’re interested in learning more.