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Dayton, Ohio, announced as first Certified Welcoming Community in United States

| September 13, 2017

Dayton, Ohio...Welcoming America is pleased to congratulate Dayton, Ohio, for achieving the status of Certified Welcoming, the first city in the United States to earn the merit. Dayton announced the achievement at a City Commission meeting today.

“We are proud of the recognition Dayton has earned as being the first Certified Welcoming city in the country. This recognition affirms to the country what we have known in Dayton—our community is a welcoming place for everyone who chooses to make it home,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. 
Immigrants are helping to reverse Dayton’s population decline and make significant contributions to the local economy. According to research published by New American Economy, between 2009-2013, foreign-born households in Dayton contributed more than $15 million in state and local taxes and had more than $115 million in spending power.
“Communities like Dayton offer an alternative to the divisive rhetoric around immigration and show how inclusion is good for our economy, neighborhoods, and future. Certified Welcoming is the first of its kind initiative to identify the standard for other communities that want to follow this growing trend and show that they are welcoming not only in word, but in deed,” said David Lubell, Executive Director of Welcoming America. 

Immigrants make significant contributions to local economies and neighborhoods across the United States, and immigrant-owned businesses employ nearly six million workers nationally. Immigrants-owned businesses also play an outsize role in revitalizing neighborhoods through entrepreneurship, reversing population decline, and homeownership

Communities that become Certified Welcoming capitalize on the power of immigrants to energize their neighborhoods, economy, and culture. Certification builds a competitive advantage and gain access to opportunities to be recognized and share integration practices on a regional, national, and global stage.

“This distinction provides further proof that the Welcome Dayton initiative has been impactful for our community, creating a climate that encourages the social and economic empowerment of all of our citizens. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to the continued growth and vibrancy of the Dayton region, and this recognition supports those efforts in a big way,” said Phillip L. Parker, President & CEO, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dayton completed an intensive evaluation to earn the Certified Welcoming evaluation, led by the Welcome Dayton initiative.  Local policies and programs were compared to  the comprehensive Welcoming Standard that covers community investments from  education to economic development to policing.

“Knowing Dayton is a Certified Welcoming City makes me excited to raise my family here. The certification demonstrates that the culture and diversity I bring to the community is not only valued but also considered when making decisions,” said Yonathan Kebede, Welcome Dayton committee member and Dayton resident.

What is Certified Welcoming?  Welcoming America launched the Certified Welcoming program in April 2017 to establish a formal designation for cities and counties that have taken action on their commitment to welcoming and met the high bar set by the Welcoming Standard. Participants complete a rigorous independent audit to evaluate their compliance with the Standard. Both Certified Welcoming and the Welcoming Standard were designed following standards set by ISEAL

What is the Welcoming Standard? The Welcoming Standard captures the core of what it means to be an inclusive community. Developed in collaboration with local governments, advocates, and diverse experts, and with input from the public at large, the Standard provides a comprehensive roadmap for immigrant inclusion. The Welcoming Standard addresses a range of essential policies, programs, and partnerships, from language access to hiring practices. Explore the Welcoming Standard.

Does your community have what it takes to be Certified Welcoming?


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Welcoming in a New Era

David Lubell | January 19, 2017

Photo by Rick Obst licensed under CC BY 2.0

During this time of great uncertainty and fear for so many, all of us at Welcoming America stand shoulder to shoulder with you in our belief that welcoming must be an essential part of our collective future. Making sure all Americans – including immigrants – are able to participate fully in our communities will lead to greater prosperity for everyone; and it is also simply the right thing to do. Although the national winds are unfortunately shifting away from welcoming immigrants and refugees for the moment, on the local level, the conditions that have led our movement to grow at a remarkable rate over the last several years have not changed. Cities and towns from the industrial Midwest, to the Mountain west, and beyond, recognize the countless benefits that immigrants and refugees bring to their communities, and also acknowledge their moral responsibility to stand up for their newest neighbors in a time of scapegoating, fear, and increased incidents of hate.  

We at Welcoming America pledge to do more than ever to support our valued member communities, and immigrants and refugees experiencing fear and intimidation that may soon be targeted by new, draconian federal policies. We also continue our commitment to support long-time residents of communities who are experiencing rapid demographic change as a result of local immigrant growth. Change is best managed collectively, and we want to make sure all voices are heard when communities come together to envision a brighter, more inclusive future.  

We know there are going to be big challenges ahead. Let’s face them together. Here are some of the ways we will advance welcoming in this new era: 

  • Support communities in the Welcoming America network and beyond to promote the establishment of more inclusive community climates, as well as policies and programs that ensure everyone can reach their full potential. 
  • Help community efforts to defend the rights and well-being of immigrants and refugees, as well as to support communities working to counter hateful rhetoric and actions.
  • Step up efforts to lift up the contributions new Americans make to towns and cities across the country.
  • Increase support to communities experiencing rapid growth in immigrant and refugee populations to build understanding with long-time residents and find common cause. Welcoming America will be there to help these places turn fear into understanding and to build connected communities that work for everyone.

Welcoming America is here for you: Please reach out anytime if your community is facing a challenge or threat to welcoming, if we can help you deepen your efforts, if you have an innovative practice that may inspire others, or if you have a story of people coming together to find common ground during these extraordinary times. We want to lift up and support your efforts.

Let’s work together to make America the welcoming place we know it can be. Let’s roll up our sleeves and all become champions of welcoming. Now is the time.

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We are here for you

David Lubell | November 10, 2016

The last few days have been difficult for so many in our country.

To the one in four Americans who is an immigrant or the child of an immigrant - this is your home, you belong here, and we fight alongside you. To families who fear being torn apart by deportations - our country must be better than that. To the refugees who fear being sent back to grave danger - we cannot allow that to happen. To Americans of all identities - we must work together to make sure this country continues to be for all of us.

And it all starts right where you are: in your community. Each of you has been an advocate, champion, and leader as you work to ensure all your neighbors can feel they belong and have equal opportunity and treatment. We are grateful to be united with you around a shared sense of purpose and want to help you.

If you live in one of the 100+ communities in the Welcoming America network, please reach out for opportunities to help in your neighborhood. If you don’t, feel free to contact us so we can help you move your community forward. If you want to take personal action, we encourage you to find ideas through our #3waystowelcome series: welcoming in your neighborhoodwelcoming in your school, and more to come in your inbox.

We can also help build bridges at this critical time in history. Our country is more polarized than ever, but we can move beyond this. We can show all people that our differing identities are actually assets in making our communities and nation stronger - that our immigrant and refugee neighbors are our friends and partners. This will mean sitting down with long-time residents who may feel they themselves are becoming strangers in their own communities. Here are some initial tools to help you get started.

We are rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work. Our movement is just getting started, and it will continue to grow and strengthen, community by community. But we cannot do it without you. We need your support now more than ever. There will be a day when every place in the United States is welcoming to all people.

Together we will make it so.

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3 Strategies European Cities are Using to Welcome Newcomers

Christina Pope | May 19, 2016

Christina Pope speaking at International Forum on Reception and Integration of Refugees in the European Union.

Christina recently spoke on behalf of Welcoming America at the International Forum on Reception and Integration of Refugees in the European Union, hosted by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia and the City of Barcelona.

This gathering of government and community leaders, practitioners, and policymakers was held to exchange ideas and best practices about integration, inclusion, and the role of local governments and NGOs in migration policy at a time when more people are displaced since World War II.

We heard from an impressive group of speakers who described an outpouring of support for those arriving from Syria through efforts undertaken by local governments, community institutions, and individuals.

Oriol Amorós, Catalonia’s Secretary General for Equality, Immigration, and Citizenship, stressed that reception and integration happen at the local level – a familiar theme to those working locally in the United States.

Indeed, the day was filled with examples of European cities that have laid out the welcome mat, creating initiatives large and small to address the immediate needs of newcomers and help them integrate within their new communities.

I was honored to join an NGO best-practice panel, where I was floored by the scope of efforts of projects such as Mediterranean Hope, which among other services, simply provides internet access so asylum-seekers can speak with their families in Syria for the first time after journeying to the island of Lampedusa, Italy.

Many cities are engaging receiving communities (those residents who have lived in a community for some time) to ensure that newcomers are arriving to fertile soil-- that is, to fight discrimination and help build mutual understanding and respect between long-term residents and new neighbors as demographic change occurs.

Here are three strategies guiding these receiving community efforts in Europe:

  • Contact Building: At the Danish Centre for Gender, Equality, and Diversity, Beatriz Hernández de Fuhr coordinates a mentor network that pairs women with mutual interests who create a set of goals to work toward together—an excellent tool for the first of three strategies often used among our membership network: meaningful contact building.
  • Positive Communications: Lola López, Barcelona City Council Commissioner for Immigration, shared a powerful example of the second strategy often used, positive communications. Barcelona’s model “Anti-Rumor” public service campaign dispels misconceptions that some locals had about immigrants. The campaign has been replicated in more than 15 cities that use trained anti-rumor “agents” such as street theater, media campaigns, and more.
  • Engaging Supportive Leaders: I was inspired to learn about the multi-sector plan underway in Leipzig, Germany, where supportive leaders like Deputy Mayor Thomas Fabian have championed immigrant inclusion. He and others within Leipzig city government have been able to send powerful signals to their community that changing demographics bring opportunity and that becoming a welcoming city is the task at hand. I was especially impressed with Fabian’s emphasis on communicating with residents in neighborhoods where newcomers are settling, showing a positive attitude, and striving to move from immigrant-specific services to “all services accessible for all.”

Leipzig is in good company; from Paris, France to Helsinki, Finland to Wadowice, Poland, local government officials have shown extraordinary leadership across Europe in the midst of an ever-changing situation filled with both opportunities and challenges that are testing European values. According to the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, current migration flows present an opportunity to return to Europe’s foundational values, and, “if Europe doesn’t return to its founding principles on this issue, then it will be definitively lost.” Time and again, speakers returned to “core European values,” identifying characteristics like freedom, equity, and human rights. Barcelona’s own identity as a city intertwines with migration – government leaders referenced how more than 200,000 people fled Catalonia due to fascism, and these leaders now feel a moral responsibility to welcome refugees.

I was reminded of elected officials across the U.S. who have set the tone for their communities by grounding statements in their cities’ history and identity, such as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: “As the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, being inclusive is a fundamental part of who we are as Atlantans […] It is incumbent upon all of us to find strength in our differences and comfort in our common identity as Atlantans to ensure that Atlanta will once again be on the right side of history as a community that is tolerant, supportive and inclusive of all its neighbors.”

This common thread – one of many I noted between inclusion efforts in the U.S. and in Europe –was a reminder of the value of transatlantic opportunities to exchange ideas and best practices, whether at the Welcoming Interactive in Atlanta or this forum in Barcelona.

I return to the United States feeling grateful for champions of immigrant inclusion worldwide, as well as for our vibrant Welcoming America network which shares best practices, builds capacity, and inspires change.

Learn more about Welcoming America’s global efforts

Learn how your community can join our network

Our Welcoming Framework

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Did you ever have the stranger danger talk?

Welcoming America | May 9, 2016

(c) TEDxBerlin, Sebastian Gabsch

Did you ever have the stranger danger talk with your parents?

It's hard to get over that fear of strangers even as an adult, but in his TEDxBerlinSalon TED Talk, Welcoming America Founder and Executive Director David Lubell urges us to try; our future depends on it. Learn more by watching his speech, held this April in Berlin.

Learn more about our international programming

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Hundreds of local leaders affirm commitment to building welcoming communities for all

Welcoming America | April 21, 2016

Growing trend counters divisive political rhetoric, underscored by movement of communities working to ensure all residents - including new Americans - participate, thrive, and belong.

ATLANTA… As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a landmark case to determine the fate of millions of undocumented Americans and on the heels of the Clinton campaign commitment to establish an Office of Immigrant Affairs, many of the U.S. communities leading the way to create more inclusive communities for all residents, including immigrants and refugees, gathered this week in Atlanta to move the conversation forward.

Local leaders, immigrant experts, and national and federal partners representing 75 of these forward-thinking communities participated in the Welcoming America Interactive on April 19-21 to collaborate innovative ways to welcome and integrate newcomers.

The growing trend of actively welcoming newcomers, counter to divisive rhetoric by some political candidates, shows that immigrant inclusion is thriving at the local level. Welcoming America helps communities to build understanding between host communities and newcomers, so that everyone can participate, thrive, and feel a sense of belonging.

“As American communities continue to grow more diverse, the communities that will thrive in the future are those that celebrate and capitalize on this asset and make sure that all residents can fully participate and thrive,” said David Lubell, founder and executive director of Welcoming America.

Welcoming America’s efforts have been recognized in Germany and Australia, where they are being replicated; delegations from both countries participated in the Welcoming Interactive. Learn more about our international welcoming work.

Key attendees at the Welcoming Interactive included:

  • David Lubell, Founder and Executive Director, Welcoming America
  • Laura Patching, Chief of the Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Dr. Linda Lopez, Chief, Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Delegate Sam Rasoul, Eleventh District in Virginia General Assembly House of Delegates
  • Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns
  • Michelle Maziar, Director, Welcoming Atlanta, Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Tara Raghuveer, Deputy Director, National Partnership for New Americans

Key tweets from participants:

  • "Integration happens at the local level & it's important 2 build networks between local orgs & the federal gov't." @USCIS #interactive2016
  • "Hate comes out of ignorance. In countering ignorance, we'll be able to build a welcoming America!" [email protected]_Rasoul #Interactive2016
  • "If we look at ppl as a sum of what they don't have then we'll never get to the empowerment lens" @GlobalYMCA #Interactive2016
  • "Democracy is better when everyone participates & everyone is included." #Interactive2016 #NewAmericansInOffice
  • "It's not about drawing lines it's about building bridges." @Isabelwilkerson @WelcomingUSA #Interactive2016
  • "If all human beings could reach their full potential,  what a beautiful planet this would be."- Isabel Wilkerson #Interactive2016

A schedule of keynote addresses and sessions may be found here.

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities across the nation becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feel like they belong. As communities are reshaped by demographic change, there must be an intentional effort to manage that transformation. Our unique focus is helping communities move beyond divisiveness and fragmentation to a coordinated web of policies and programs that ensure that all residents—including immigrants—can fully participate and belong. We partner with more than 100 communities across the United States, we are the nonprofit partner to the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, and we are piloting international welcoming efforts in Germany and Australia. Learn how your community can become a more welcoming place:


Deborah Hakes at [email protected]

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Communities to receive support for welcoming New Americans

Welcoming America | March 29, 2016

Twenty Communities Selected for “Gateways for Growth Challenge” to Welcome and Integrate New Americans


New York, NY — Building on the growing desire of civic and business leaders to attract, retain, and integrate immigrants as part of an economic growth strategy, the Partnership for a New American Economy Research Fund (PNAE) and Welcoming America are pleased to announce communities that have been selected as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge.

Launched in December 2015, Gateways for Growth invited communities across the United States to apply for research, technical assistance, and matching grants to support the development and implementation of multi-sector strategic plans for welcoming and integrating new Americans.

These communities are part of a national trend in which local government, business, and civil society leaders embrace research showing that being inclusive toward immigrants helps cities and counties thrive economically. They are working proactively to ensure an environment where all residents can contribute and succeed.

Of the many communities that applied to the challenge, the following cities were selected:

  • Akron, OH & Summit County
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Columbus, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fargo, ND
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Kansas City, KS/MO
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Macomb County, MI
  • Nashville, TN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Phoenix, AZ & Arizona State
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Salt Lake County, UT
  • Upstate NY Region (Syracuse/Buffalo, NY)

“While Congress fails to enact legislation that would bring the best, brightest, and hardest-working to this country, cities across the United States have recognized the economic contributions immigrants make—as consumers, job creators, and entrepreneurs,” says John Feinblatt, Chairman, Partnership for a New American Economy. “The Gateways for Growth Challenge will help communities develop and implement plans to integrate immigrants into their localities and compete in the global economy.”

“These communities are leaders in the broader and growing trend to be more inclusive, countering the narrative often heard in the mainstream news,” says David Lubell, Executive Director, Welcoming America. “Inclusive economic growth strategies that take into account both U.S. and foreign-born communities make cities more vibrant, attractive places for all residents to live, work, and thrive.”

PNAE and Welcoming America will provide communities selected for Gateways for Growth with one or more of the following:

  • Customized quantitative research reports on the contributions immigrants make to their local economies
  • On-the-ground, technical assistance to help communities draft, execute, and communicate a multi-sector immigrant integration strategy
  • Small planning grants that a local partner has committed to match. 

PNAE and Welcoming America have produced an interactive map showing initiatives across the United States that support immigrant and U.S.-born entrepreneurs, promote citizenship and financial empowerment, improve public safety and access to services, and advance education and workforce goals to help regions compete in the global economy. The map provides detailed information about and examples from the communities that have embraced this work, as well as guidance for those seeking to replicate successful programs and policies.

Complementing the Gateways for Growth Challenge, PNAE and Welcoming America will be working this fall in partnership with EngageNWA, with support from Walmart, to conduct a study on the impact of immigration in the Northwest Arkansas region. The groups will also convene leaders to develop a regional approach to welcoming and integrating immigrant communities as part of a broader strategy for promoting the region as a global community of talent.

About the Partnership for a New American Economy            

The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. The Partnership’s members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech, and Media to Manufacturing. Partnership members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse, and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations. Learn more at

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities across the nation becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feel like they belong.

As communities are reshaped by demographic change, there must be an intentional effort to manage that transformation. Just as fertile soil is needed for a seed to grow, receptive communities are critical for immigrants to be able to fully participate in the social, civic, and economic fabric of their adopted hometowns. Our unique focus is helping communities move beyond divisiveness and fragmentation to a coordinated web of policies and programs that ensure that all residents—including immigrants—can fully participate and belong. We partner with more than 100 communities across the United States, and we are piloting international welcoming efforts in Germany and Australia. Learn how your community can become a more welcoming place for all:

Partnership for a New American EconomyWelcoming America

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Statement in Response to Belgium and Turkey Attacks

Welcoming America | March 23, 2016

Welcoming America extends its sincere condolences to all victims of attacks in Belgium and Turkey. These horrific incidents aim to instill fear among people of all faiths and races, but we must not succumb to divisive tactics.

We must continue to stand together, and not allow ourselves to be divided as we face threats.

We urge Americans to resist the divisive rhetoric by some politicians to stoke fear and further discrimination. Targeting people based on their faith or ethnicity is wrong, and it goes directly against our values as a country.

It is not acceptable for politicians to divide people against each other in order to use prejudice and fear for their own political advancement.

To keep our families safe, Americans of all backgrounds must stand united and uphold the values that have made our nation strong – and one that embraces diversity as a strength.

We must hold fast as a nation to our values of equality and justice for all, especially in times of crisis.

By working together, we can make sure that our community stands on the better side of history. When we look back 10 or 20 years from now, we will remember that we weren’t hindered by our fears. Instead, we invited diverse new neighbors to join us in building a stronger community, and we all became better for it.

Whether we were born here or not, and no matter who we pray to, what matters most is that we all want the same thing as Americans – the freedom to speak, to pray, and to raise our children with hope. That’s what binds us as a community, as a country. We need to stop thinking in terms of us versus them, and start thinking in terms of just us. If we can do that, we will be able to do so much, together.

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New initiative to boost inclusiveness in local communities

Welcoming America | March 10, 2016

The Scanlon Foundation and Welcome to Australia have today launched a new national initiative to assist governments, businesses and individuals to work together to create more inclusive communities.

Welcoming Cities, delivered in partnership with US not-for-profit Welcoming America, will foster meaningful collaboration between Australian local governments, and implement evidenced-based approaches to increasing a sense of belonging and participation for all, both in communities and on a national scale.

The initiative is informed by the success of the Welcoming America model developed by US social entrepreneur, David Lubell in 2009 – a concept recognised by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and BMW Group as one of five recipients worldwide of the Intercultural Innovation Award in 2014, and which led to Mr Lubell being named a Young Global Leader at the 2015 World Economic Forum.

To help launch Welcoming Cities, Founder and Executive Director of Welcoming America, David Lubell, is in Australia this week. As part of his visit, Mr Lubell will deliver the keynote address at the Welcoming Cities Symposium event in Melbourne, and meet with government representatives in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Mr. Lubell is looking forward to supporting the work of Welcoming Cities as Australian communities join the global welcoming movement.

“Initiatives like Welcoming Cities help communities recognise the important ways that immigrants and refugees make them stronger economically, socially and culturally, and that welcoming is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do,” Mr Lubell said.

“Welcoming America has seen communities transform into vibrant places where people from different backgrounds respect each other’s talents and values, and I have no doubt that Welcoming Cities is capable of the same in Australia.”

By 2050, Australia’s population is projected to have reached 38 million, with net overseas migration a key contributing factor in that growth. Additionally, migration will have contributed 1.6 trillion dollars to Australia’s GDP.

Scanlon Foundation CEO, Anthea Hancocks, said Welcoming Cities is an important new initiative, given our changing social landscape.

“We understand the many issues that local governments can face, especially when grappling with the challenges and opportunities that come with new and emerging communities.”

“Welcoming Cities will assist local governments to be more effectively resourced, networked and genuinely connected with on-the-ground community development activities,” Ms Hancocks said.

Founder of Welcome to Australia, Brad Chilcott, said local government associations have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to welcoming new Australians into their communities.

“Welcoming Cities will facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and highlight the many benefits that come with offering a new home to new neighbours,” Mr Chilcott said.

Manager of Welcoming Cities, Aleem Ali, is excited to be leading the new program in Australia.

“This initiative will showcase the great work being done by many communities across Australia, and bring a national and international standard to what it means to be a Welcoming City,” Mr Ali said.

The Welcoming Cities initiative will be officially launched by Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, at the Welcoming Cities Symposium in Melbourne on Wednesday 9 March.

The Symposium will also feature special guests David Lubell and The Hon. Robin Scott MP, Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, and will bring together local, state and federal government representatives, along with key stakeholders essential to the transition of migrants at the local level.

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Cities Doing More with More

Rachel Peric | March 7, 2016

Cities don’t just become great, and then people move there – they become great because they intentionally design themselves to be places that attract and incorporate diverse people, ideas, and talent, and ensure that their residents, regardless of background, can participate, thrive, and belong.

This past week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Third International Cities of Migration Conference in Toronto, hosted by the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University. A gathering of local government and community leaders, practitioners, experts, activists and policymakers, the event was an opportunity to explore themes of diversity, prosperity and migration at a time when these issues are at the forefront of international discourse and policy.

The roster of speakers was impressive and, speaking from an American perspective, provided an inspiring glimpse into Canada’s compassionate response to refugees.

We heard from Canada’s new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, The Honorable John McCallum, who spoke about the federal government’s significant commitment to resettle Syrian refugees, and the fact that this was a national project of great importance – one that would be lived out in cities large and small, in partnership with government, civil society, businesses, and local residents.

 I had the pleasure of joining a panel on Welcoming Refugees, where I was inspired to be surrounded by some of the entrepreneurial efforts being led by Canadians - efforts like Lifeline Syria in Toronto, which is working to recruit, train and assist sponsor groups as they welcome and support Syrian refugees coming to Canada.

This entrepreneurial and pragmatic spirit of welcome wasn’t limited to the Canadian experience. Wolfgang Spelthahn, District Mayor of Landrat, Kreis Düren, Germany, spoke about efforts in his city to create a welcoming culture, and – as a city with a declining population – the demographic imperative of doing so.

Mary Stagaman from the Cincinnati Regional Chamber joined with other business leaders to offer a forward-looking perspective around inclusion and systems-level efforts being led by the Chamber to create an economically competitive city by attracting and retaining talent, and making the city “Diverse by Design.”

These were just a few of the ideas being shared by Cities of Migration, whose efforts to showcase good ideas in immigrant inclusion and help them to cross borders never fails to inspire. In fact, the conference site features this brilliant quote from the IOM’s William Lacy Swing: “Cities rarely shrink to greatness. They get better by growing and to grow they must welcome migrants.”

Indeed. Cities don’t just become great, and then people move there – they become great because they intentionally design themselves to be places that attract and incorporate diverse people, ideas and talent, and ensure that their residents, regardless of background, can participate, thrive and belong.

If cities fail to grow without immigrants and inclusion, than they certainly can’t grow without the concurrent growth of the organizations and champions who engage on this issue. That means we need an abundance – not a scarcity – mentality to not only be our guiding view on migration, but also our lens for how smart migration gets managed in cities. As local welcoming efforts are proving, communities can grow their capacity to meet the short-term challenge, and prosper from the long-term benefits.

We’re often told that we should be doing more with less, but in this case, it’s all about doing more with more. More resources, more partners, and more recognition of the importance of migration in shaping the social and economic destinies of cities around the world.

And as the field of immigrant inclusion widens to encompass the globe, it’s conferences like this one that show just how much we can accomplish when good ideas travel.

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