Welcoming Standard | Welcoming America

Category: Welcoming Standard

Reflecting on what it means—and what it will take—to be truly welcoming

Rachel Peric | July 16, 2020

In coming months, Welcoming America will be revisiting the Welcoming Standard—the guiding document for communities aspiring to be inclusive places for immigrants and all residents. You can explore the Welcoming Standard to see the kinds of policies and practices that communities should have in place. 

We also know that there are many factors that go into creating a truly welcoming community—it’s a task that began long before us, and will always need to be reinforced and deepened. What matters is: each of us can be influential in seeing these principles come to life, no matter where we start or how far we bring others with us.  

What we do know is that successful welcoming efforts take:

Vision. Model in practice and policy the values of the healthy democracy that we can become, community by community.

Leadership. Inspire others to join in that task through an inclusive and affirmative vision. They are led by individuals who work relentlessly to create an environment in which other leaders can rise to meet this moment, and are organized and networked to do so. They also use leadership to expand leadership toward more reflective leaders with the power to shape community decisions.  

All of us. Acknowledge and address racism—individual, institutional, and systemic. Situate the work of welcoming in a local, historical context that recognizes how long-time residents may have experienced and continue to experience an unwelcoming environment. Help their institutions and communities be places where we all feel at home, whether we've just arrived or have been here for generations. Help their institutions and communities to benefit from policies and practices that are informed by those most impacted by them, and which reduce barriers to opportunity not only for immigrants, but for residents who may be excluded because of race, religion, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors. 

Mutuality and agency. Continually strive to build trust, mutual respect, and cooperation across lines of difference, which are the foundation for relationships and are in turn the foundation for any community endeavor. Recognize that institutions that focus on the most vulnerable to extend agency—not charity—will have the greatest impact on the community at large.  

Sustained commitment. Play the long game by continually reminding people of the values that are at stake. At the same time, work to address the upstream solutions to inequality and segregation that require a sustained commitment and a range of approaches that will look different and start from different places in each community. Understand that welcoming efforts begin with shared values and culminate in accountability—the accountability of our institutions to “we the people,” with an ever-broadening understanding of who that “we” encompasses.

In all of these tasks, we are here to support one another. This is the singular purpose of our work and it is bolstered every day by the efforts we see taking shape in every corner of the globe to reimagine how our communities can be more welcoming ones.  

As we face new challenges, we also celebrate the extraordinary leadership we see every day as beacons of hope and inspiration for what the future can hold, no matter what the past has wrought. 

If you have any thoughts on this, we welcome them. Please send them to [email protected].

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Announcing Baltimore City & Montgomery County as Certified Welcoming

Welcoming America | June 22, 2020

In these unprecedented times of both a pandemic and national conversation on racism, the need for communities to translate welcoming values into policies and practices that create more inclusive environments is greater than ever.

That is why we are pleased to announce the newest additions to the growing list of Certified Welcoming places in the United States: the City of Baltimore and Montgomery County, both located in Maryland.

With these places, there are now 10 cities and counties in the U.S. that are Certified Welcoming. Communities that are Certified Welcoming capitalize on the power of inclusive policies and culture to ensure all residents—including immigrants—contribute, participate, and thrive. Certification builds a competitive advantage and access to opportunities on a regional, national, and global stage.

According to research by New American Economy, immigrants comprised 15% of Maryland’s residents in 2014, to a total of 886,650 residents. More than 120,000 people across the state are employed by immigrant-owned businesses. As of 2014, immigrants held more than $24.6 billion in spending power. In Montgomery County, one-third of all residents are foreign-born; in the City of Baltimore, immigrants helped stem a declining population in 2018.

“We congratulate the City of Baltimore and Montgomery County on becoming Certified Welcoming places,” said Rachel Peric, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “By becoming Certified Welcoming, leaders in both places are demonstrating their long-term commitment to ensuring that the racial and ethnic diversity of Maryland is not only celebrated, but that new and longtime residents alike are active participants in the civic, social and economic fabric of the places they call home. ” 

Both the City of Baltimore and Montgomery County completed an intensive evaluation earlier this year to earn the Certified Welcoming designation. Local policies and programs were compared to the comprehensive Welcoming Standard that covers community investments from education to economic development to emergency response. The Gilchrist Community Resource Center and the Office of Community Partnerships led the certification process in Montgomery County and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs led the process in the City of Baltimore.

What is Certified Welcoming?
The Certified Welcoming establishes 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, diverse set of 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.


For Media Inquiries:
Lola Pak, Director of Communications
Welcoming America
[email protected]

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We want to hear from you: What is a welcoming community?

Welcoming America | February 18, 2016

Today, Welcoming America released the first draft of a standard for a Welcoming community open for public comment through April 22.

This will be the first standard in the U.S. for a welcoming community, and the criteria are being defined by leading experts and practitioners in the field of immigrant inclusion as well as by you, the general public.

While a growing number of studies, such as the Cities Leading for Immigrant Integration report and the Chamber of Commerce Nashville study, link welcoming to economic benefits, we often hear questions from our members: What does it actually mean to be a Welcoming community? What are the steps we must take to get there?

We envision Welcoming Communities to be equitable and inclusive places, but our members need a path to get there. The Welcoming Standard is that path.

The Standard will outline the policies, programs, and practices that local governments need to have in place —such as supporting new American civic participation; making services accessible; and engaging all residents, including both receiving communities and new Americans.

Welcoming America will use the standard to help localities track and benchmark their efforts and ultimately, become certified. Smart local policy and business leaders across the country are already competing to gain an edge for their communities. More than just a label, being certified will help communities demonstrate that they are invested in the success of all residents and a friendly place for global business and talent.

We are asking a big question, and we need your help to get the answer right.

With the help of our advisory board, we have come up with a draft of what it takes to be a Welcoming Community, and we are asking for your feedback. Through Friday, April 22, we will be accepting comments, questions, edits, and emojis on this first draft. We want to hear from you.

To see our draft and share your thoughts on the standard, take this survey.

Comment on the standard

Photo Credit: Loris Guzzetta and League of Kitchens

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