Welcoming America and New York State Launches First of Its Kind Civic Leadership Program for New Americans
New York, N.Y. – Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the launch of the New York State Civic Leadership Program as part of Welcoming Week (September 9-18). The New York State Civic Leadership Program is a partnership between the New York State Office for New Americans and Welcoming America, a recognized national leader in immigrant inclusion. The Civic Leadership Program is a first of its kind state led program to strengthen the civic leadership of new Americans across New York State and connect them to local government, institutions, and their neighbors. This pilot program will offer leadership building and civics training workshop sessions to new Americans with a desire to make a positive impact in their communities.
“New York is built on the hard work and determination of generations of immigrants, and we welcome all those who look to start a new life in our state,” Governor Hochul said. “The New York State Civic Leadership Program – the first of its kind – will help new Americans build strong connections with their communities, providing them with support to help them contribute to a thriving New York State and ushering in the next generation of local leaders.”
Welcoming America Executive Director Rachel Perić said, “Welcoming America is proud to partner with the State of New York to support this innovative and historic investment in the capacity of New Yorkers from all walks of life to be able to serve and lead in their communities. We applaud Governor Hochul’s efforts to ensure that more New Yorkers – new and longtime – can participate in the civic fabric of the communities they call home, no matter where they come from.”
Governor Hochul issued a proclamation recognizing September 9-18, 2022 as Welcoming Week in New York State. During Welcoming Week, organizations and communities bring together neighbors of all backgrounds to connect and affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places in achieving collective prosperity and belonging. Welcoming Week is spearheaded by Welcoming America, a not-for-profit with expertise in supporting local leaders in building strong civic engagement and inclusion practices for communities.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “In New York, we welcome people from all over the world with open arms because our state offers a sense of belonging and inclusivity. Since its inception, the Office for New Americans has helped immigrants succeed. The New York State Civic Leadership Program presents another tool we offer to immigrants as a way to feel comfortable with an understanding of how our government and institutions work, to have a voice, and to respond to the needs of our communities by knowing about the resources available. This offers a path for all new Americans to live in an integrated New York State we can call home.”
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, “This new initiative by the Hochul Administration and launched by the Office of New Americans is a powerful tool to ensure that new and emerging immigrant communities are better integrated into the social, economic and political fabric of our nation. Building civic leadership skills in these communities is key to immigrant integration. The New York State Civil Leadership Program demonstrates how New York can lead the nation in building strong communities that understand and strengthen our nation’s strong democratic traditions and institutions. I thank Governor Hochul and Secretary of State Rodriguez for their ongoing work to ensure a prosperous future for all who call New York their home.”
LifeWorks Immigrant Services Manager Joan Odess said, “LifeWorks Community Action is pleased to be participating in the pilot Civic Leadership Program in partnership with Welcoming America. Our Immigrant Services Program works to welcome area immigrants, be they long term members of our community or new arrivals by facilitating access in the areas of health, education, legal services and social services. We expect an enthusiastic reception of the Civic Leadership Program by immigrants who are informal leaders in our area and who have, until now, never been given an opportunity to engage formally in training to strengthen the leadership qualities that already exist within them and further familiarize themselves with the institutions that affect their lives on a daily basis.”
Chinese-American Planning Council Program Queens Special Needs Director Jacqueline Fan said, “Chinese-American Planning Council is thrilled to partner with the New York State Office for New Americans and Welcoming America in the Civic Leadership Program to strengthen new Americans’ civic leadership skills through our Queens Community Services location. We look forward to continuing our work of empowering Chinese immigrants, particularly for families with special needs, elevating their voices and encouraging their engagement in civic efforts in New York, especially for the residents of Queens, where half of the residents are immigrants and over half speak a language other than English.”
Agri-Business Child Development Chief Executive Officer Maggie M. Evans said, “We are honored to provide educational opportunities, social, well-being, and health services to all ABCD families. Partnerships are an integral and vital component of ABCD’s success and strategic plans. During this Welcoming Week and to celebrate the launch of the Civic Leadership Program, it is our pleasure to recognize the importance of ABCD’s partnership with the NYS Office for New Americans and with Welcoming America. We are very thankful to Governor Hochul for this exciting opportunity.”
The Civic Leadership Program will foster welcoming and inclusive communities by ensuring that immigrants and refugees are able to access local resources, are connected to opportunities to share their voice and participate meaningfully in their communities, and with their neighbors and institutions – this will all contribute to an environment where new Americans can thrive and belong.
The New York State Office for New Americans has partnered with Welcoming America to develop a curriculum for the workshops that comprise the Civic Leadership Program. Welcoming America is providing ongoing technical assistance to three community-based organizations in New York State that will be utilizing this new civic leadership curriculum. Welcoming America’s development of this curriculum, which responds to the needs of New York State communities, will be an important resource for the field of immigrant inclusion not only in the state, but nationally.
The three community-based organizations piloting the Civic Leadership Program are Chinese-American Planning Council, Agri-Business Child Development, and LifeWorks – these agencies will be launching the pilot in three distinct New York State regions, in both rural and urban localities. These agencies, providing services in New York City, Orange and Saratoga Counties, will recruit participants and facilitate workshop sessions utilizing the new curriculum later this Fall.
Special outreach for participation will be made to immigrant parents and caregivers who may have a child with a disability, contributing to the efforts of ONA’s unique Ramirez June Initiative. This a first of its kind in the nation initiative builds capacity at the state level to support new Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families by connecting them with vital resources, information, and services in New York State.
Civic Leadership Program will be a model across the nation to support immigrant voice, civic leadership and integration, while building on other efforts of ONA to strengthen civics and community engagement in new American communities.
The New York State Office for New Americans, founded in 2012, is the nation’s first statutorily created immigrant services office. ONA assists all new Americans with accessing and navigating a variety of free services and support through its statewide network of community-based providers.
For any immigrant in need of assistance, or to connect with ONA’s programs, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 9:00am to 8:00pm, Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages.
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