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Welcome to America?

Welcoming America | July 24, 2013

This week, OpenDemocracy features a story by our Deputy Director, Rachel Steinhardt, on immigration and the power and potential of transformation. With immigration policy the hottest of hot button issues in America, is it possible to transform the debate? Only by engaging with each other at a much deeper level to create a collective vision of the future. Read the full story online.

Welcome to America?

By Rachel Steinhardt Read this story online at OpenDemocracy In the mid-1980s, my grandparents, who were immigrants and Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe, moved their small clothing store business from New York City to the small town of Frederick, Maryland, about an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital. When the store opened, the town’s mayor made a personal visit to welcome them to the growing community. The gesture was an expression of the kind of values that many towns aspire to – hospitality, family, hard work and tenacity. And like so many other immigrants, these values were embodied by my grandparents. They were the ingredients of their success, and they helped to shape the economic and cultural contributions that my grandparents made to the adopted town that welcomed them. Thirty years later, the same community became emblematic of a very different reception for immigrant families.  As the demographics of Frederick shifted and the Latino population increased, so too did new tensions, and a growing number of restrictive immigration policies were passed at the local level. Last year, the president of Frederick County’s governing body was identified as one of the ten most anti-immigration officials in local governments across America. Frederick is not alone, of course. Such tensions have sparked violence in many parts of the USA. Nationwide, anti-Latino hate crimes rose by forty per cent between 2003 and 2007. In places like Suffolk County, Long Island, a cultural and political climate similar to that of Frederick with an undertone of anti-immigrant sentiment produced a string of murders perpetrated against the burgeoning immigrant community. During the last twenty years, large-scale immigration has impacted the United States in unprecedented ways. In 1990, one in twelve Americans was an immigrant, while by 2005 that figure had risen to one in eight. While traditional immigrant gateways like New York City and Chicago still remain important destinations, what is unique about this recent wave of people has been the rise of new gateways in smaller cities like Frederick, Nashville, Boise and Omaha that don’t have a prior history of immigration.  These communities have received a larger percentage of new arrivals than ever before, and in places like Frederick and Suffolk County, the immigrant population has doubled in ten years or less. Demographic change on this scale is never easy for anyone involved. We often think about the difficulties of adaptation for immigrants themselves, but the communities that receive them also face major challenges that must be factored into the equation. Growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and elsewhere suggests that, while intensely local, these challenges are also global. The whole world is on the move, and as communities are continuously reshaped by migration, the central question is how to approach these changes in ways that can transform the divisiveness that surrounds the pro- and anti-immigrant conversation. While migration policy is often debated at the macro-level, it is at the level of individuals and their communities that its consequences are experienced most deeply. It is here that both problems and solutions must be rooted, and that’s a story of culture change, not just shifts in public policy. Welcoming America, the organization I work for now, focuses its efforts on these processes of culture change nationwide, but its roots lie deep in Tennessee, a state with the third fastest growing foreign-born population in the USA. Eight years ago, the climate for immigrants in Tennessee had sunk to an all-time low. David Lubell, an Ashoka fellow and then the director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, watched in horror as a local mosque was burnt to the ground, as officials tried to purge Spanish-language books from a local library, and as legislators introduced over fifty bills that were targeted at immigrants. How had things gotten so bad? What was missing, Lubell concluded, was something much more personal than policy: it was empathy - not just for immigrants, but also for long-time Tennesseans who were afraid that their community was becoming unrecognizable. “It was this personal transformation that helped me recognize that both our organization and our field needed to adapt if we were to help communities to transform. We needed to start with ourselves.” Out of this transformation came Welcoming Tennessee, the first effort of its kind to reach out to native-born Tennesseans in an effort to address the root causes of their anxiety.  As social psychologists have learned, the public debate surrounding immigration often overlooks more deep-seated fears about those who are different. So Welcoming Tennessee focused on helping people to identify and appreciate the values they shared in common, and on developing strong interpersonal relationships. Leaders from both immigrant and non-immigrant communities mobilized to tell this new story by sharing positive messages about common values in the mainstream media, on billboards, and at educational and intercultural events. As they became more open to listening to each other’s fears, concerns and priorities, recent arrivals and long-time residents of the state became more willing to engage, and ultimately, more welcoming to everyone in their communities. Lubell also found that individuals who feared that their communities were changing for the worse were not immediately willing to engage in policy campaigns, but they were open to meeting and talking with their immigrant neighbours. Research has shown that that those with immigrant friends tend to see immigration as an opportunity, while those without these social ties see it as a problem. Direct contact between different groups is essential for transformation to take place at any level, but in many communities “natives” and “newcomers” live on opposite sides of town and have few opportunities to interact. So that was a good place to begin. As individuals engaged with one another, a collective transformation began to take shape. Local polling demonstrated a positive change in the perceptions of U.S.-born residents towards immigrants, and local leaders began to talk publicly about the value of creating a welcoming community. Today, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean speaks about how being an immigrant-friendly city is vital for economic development, and is something to be celebrated. “When immigrants pick your city that is a great honour,” he says. Businesses that had considered leaving the state stayed on, as did many immigrant families. As a result, the broader community has benefited from the civic and economic contributions of new Tennesseans. Traditionally, immigration and integration have been approached through a focus on helping immigrants adapt to their new environments, and this is obviously vital. But little attention has been paid to helping native-born residents cope with change. At its worst, ignoring the need to engage with their concerns can create fertile ground for the exploitation of their anxieties by political opportunists - the darkest example being played out in my own family history in the Holocaust. By contrast, engagement between different groups and a willingness to work through the issues they face together eventually creates a community where everyone can thrive, just like the one where my grandparents were welcomed by the mayor. A welcoming community doesn’t just tolerate newcomers or accept more cultural diversity - it actively seeks to engage all of its members in building a vision of the future.  If transformation is a process of collective visioning and co-creation, a welcoming culture is essential because it helps to ensure that everyone can participate in this process. Welcome to America.   Go Back

Announcing the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative

Welcoming America | June 26, 2013

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Recognizing that immigrants help maximize opportunities for economic growth and civic vitality and position communities as globally competitive, 21st century leaders, 17 local governments have joined the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative with Welcoming America.

St. Louis Mayor and County Executive Sign On Tied into the St. Louis Immigration & Innovation Initiative's Economic Conference today in which new actions to become more welcoming to immigrants were announced, the St. Louis region became the 12th to join Welcoming Cities and Counties. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley signed on today making the region the first to have both its city Mayor and county Executive sign together.Lincoln, Nebraska Declares Welcoming City Day Mayor Chris Beutler, along with advocates and members of the city’s New Americans Task Force, which helps new immigrants acclimate to America and Lincoln, signed a proclamation designating Friday, June 21 as Welcoming City Day. How can my city or county join?To learn more about how your municipal government can participate, contact Susan Downs-Karkos at [email protected].You can also visit www.welcomingcities.org to learn more and to download a commitment form.

Welcoming Cities & Counties Recognized as a 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America Commitment to Action

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"62","attributes":{"alt":"CGIA_CommitmentSeal_2013_Lg","height":"62","width":"219","class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-4382 media-element file-media-large"}}]] CGI America (CGIA) convenes leaders to turn ideas into action. CGI America Commitments to Action represent bold new ways that CGI commitment makers address challenges in the United States—implemented through new methods of partnership and designed to maximize impact. Commitments can be small or large, global or local. No matter the size or scope, commitments help CGI America commitment makers translate practical goals into meaningful and measurable results.

The initiative signals the growing importance of an innovative and proactive role for local governments, and the growing recognition of immigrants as assets in any community. Participating cities and counties include:

  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (incl. Pittsburgh)
  • Austin, Texas
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • High Point, North Carolina
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Macomb County, Michigan
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • New York, New York
  • Oakley, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • San Francisco, California
  • St. Louis, Missouri (city)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (county)

Welcoming Cities and Counties recognize the benefit of supporting immigrant-friendly, welcoming environments in which all community members can fully contribute and participate.

Welcoming America is convening members of Welcoming Cities and Counties to share promising practices with each other and help the nation learn from their local level innovations that support economic development and create vibrant global communities that are great places to live, work and do business. In addition this initiative is supported by a growing list of partner organizations, which include: City of Chicago, City of New YorkThe German Marshall Fund of the United States, AS/COA, and Maytree’s Cities of Migration. Welcoming Cities and Counties has also been recognized as a 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

If you, your organization, or your city or county is interested in learning more or participating, please contact Susan Downs-Karkos, Director of Strategic Partnerships, at [email protected]. To learn more about the initiative, visit www.welcomingcities.org Read more research about the imperatives for this work in Communities and Banking magazine and the Welcoming Cities report.

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Promoting Economic Prosperity by Welcoming Immigrants

Welcoming America | June 4, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"60","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright size-full wp-image-4220","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"75","height":"104","title":"communities and banking","alt":""}}]]Welcoming America Deputy Director Rachel Steinhardt's article, "Promoting Economic Prosperity by Welcoming Immigrants," is in the latest issue of Communities & Banking, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Read on below for the article, and you can also find a PDF copy here.


**The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston or the Federal Reserve System. Information about organizations and upcoming events is strictly informational and not an endorsement.**

Civic leaders are catching on to what savvy businesses already know: diversity and immigration are opportunities that can improve prosperity for all.

When it comes to running a business, maintaining competitive advantage involves adapting quickly to an increasingly diverse employee and consumer base. In the global economy, attracting the right talent and reaching today’s demographically changing consumer market is imperative. With the Hispanic and Asian markets in the United States expected to reach a combined $2.5 trillion in buying power by 2015, strategies that welcome newcomers as employees and customers are a recipe for growth for Fortune 500 businesses and smaller firms alike.1 A growing number of cities today are working to create a more immigrant-friendly culture.2 From Boston to East Providence, from Dayton to Salt Lake City, more civic leaders are promoting their communities as welcoming places that can attract and retain a global workforce and maximize the local economic development and growth opportunities that newcomers bring. The Business Case A growing body of research demonstrates how immigrant-friendly cities can create positive opportunities for all. Immigrants from across the skills spectrum contribute economically and are often highly sought after to fill critical gaps in the labor market.3 Immigrants are also more likely to start a business than nonimmigrants. Consider a Fiscal Policy Institute report indicating that small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007 and were generating more than $776 billion annually.4 Some studies have correlated increased immigration with increased earnings of American workers. Other research has documented immigrants’ significant purchasing power, which translates into more demand for local consumer goods.5 Moreover, by helping to balance the ratio of workers to retirees, immigrants give cities and the nation as a whole a structural advantage over many trading partners. And immigrants’ home purchases have helped boost housing prices.6 Although it is more difficult to quantify, immigrants also contribute to localities through a “diversity advantage”—the potential for greater innovation, creativity, and even cultural renaissance that results when communities and businesses manage diversity well.7 Researcher Richard Florida has written about the diversity advantage, concluding that “nations that are more accepting of and better at integrating new immigrants have a higher level of economic growth and development.”8 In 2007, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office calculated that the fiscal impact of immigrants as a whole is positive, with the tax revenues they generate exceeding the cost of the services they use. Research also has shown that over the last two decades, the metropolitan areas with the fastest economic growth were also the places with the greatest increase in immigrant share of the labor force.9 Similarly, a study by Global Detroit found that immigrants in southeast Michigan “provide enormous contributions to the region’s economic growth.”10 A Movement Grows More cities are seeing immigrants as offering a competitive edge.11 Take Dayton, Ohio, which made headlines last year with the release of its Welcome Dayton plan. Dayton city manager Tim Riordan’s comments reflect why other cities should take note: “Immigrants are more than twice as likely as other citizens to become entrepreneurs and create jobs. We want to make every effort we can to not only attract more of these creative and industrious people, but also to encourage them to stay in our community and plant deep roots.”12 Welcome Dayton includes strategies aimed at fostering a welcoming climate and increasing immigrants’ access to the kinds of services (banking, English classes, and the like) that can help them contribute at their full potential. Meanwhile in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans in 2012 to make Chicago the “most immigrant-friendly city in the world.” “Throughout its history,” says Adolfo Hernandez, director of Chicago’s Office of New Americans, “Chicago has benefited from the immeasurable economic contributions of its immigrant populations, and from the rich fabric of distinct and vibrant neighborhoods they helped to create. … As we build a thriving 21st century economy, we must work together to attract and retain immigrants by helping them to succeed and grow in a safe and welcoming city.” In the Great Lakes region, initiatives such as Global Michigan/Global Detroit are working to revitalize the regional economy by making the area more welcoming to immigrants, international residents, foreign trade, and foreign investment. The effort includes programs to retain international students, microenterprise training and lending, a network of immigration and social services, attracting foreign investment (for example, through a cultural ambassadors program and ramping up investor visas) and the Welcoming Michigan initiative, which promotes understanding between native and foreign-born residents. Says Welcoming Michigan Director Steve Tobocman, “If Michigan is to compete, we have to welcome the investment, the jobs, the workers, and the ingenuity of immigrants and refugees. Welcoming Michigan is the foundation of a global economic growth strategy to return prosperity to our state.”13 Cities such as Houston and Boston have similar initiatives. More recently, Baltimore declared itself a welcoming city and committed to investing in support for immigrants, while ensuring that long-time residents garnered benefits from new vitality and talent.14 Said Mayor Rawlings-Blake, “It’s about all of us growing and getting better and being successful together.”15 Since 2009, the nonprofit Welcoming America has been working with a nationwide network of member organizations and partners to promote a welcoming atmosphere—community by community—in which immigrants and native-born residents can find common ground and shared prosperity. Welcoming initiatives have been launched in 22 states. Welcoming America has worked with government leaders in 11 states to pass or issue Welcoming proclamations—formal statements that articulate openness to immigrants and the need to create a positive climate that benefits the whole community.16 The proclamations are important steps toward creating more actionable and comprehensive welcoming plans. In New England, where demographics have changed significantly over the past decade and immigrants account for the majority of population growth, Welcoming initiatives in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maine are creating a climate that is not only about attracting immigrants, but about helping them to stay and thrive.17 As Boston’s Mayor Menino has said, “It is not enough to just welcome immigrants. …We must make a collective effort to ensure that immigrants feel welcomed.”18 In 2012, governors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island both signed Welcoming proclamations, and resolutions have passed in Boston, East Providence, and other communities in the region. More than ever, efforts like these are a recognition that our communities are most likely to be economically successful when all members are welcomed and supported to offer their potential. Rachel Steinhardt, the deputy director of Welcoming America, is based in Decatur, Georgia. Contact her at [email protected] See also www.welcomingcities.org. Endnotes
  1. See State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative, 2012, http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/microsites/publicaffairs/StateoftheAsianAmericanConsumerReport.pdf; and The State of the AsianAmerican Consumer, 2012, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reportsdownloads/2012/state-of-the-asian-american-consumer-q3-2012.html.
  2. “Immigrant” refers here to all foreign-born residents of the United States.
  3. The Brookings Institution identifies eight industries where immigrants fill critical gaps. See http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/03/15-immigrantworkers-singer#2.
  4. David Dyssegaard Kallick, “Immigrant Small Business Owners: A Significant and Growing Part of the Economy” (report, Fiscal Policy Institute, New York City, June 2012); and U.S. Small Business Administration, “Frequently Asked Questions,” http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/sbfaq.pdf.
  5. Giovanni Peri, “The Impact of Immigration on Native Poverty through Labor Market Competition” (National Bureau of Economic Research working paper no. 17570, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2011); Örn B. Bodvarsson, Hendrik Van den Berg, and Joshua Lewer, “Measuring Immigration’s Effects on Labor Demand: A Reexamination of the Mariel Boatlift,” Labour Economics 13 (2008): 201–245; Francesca Mazzolari and David Neumark, “Immigration and Product Diversity,” Journal of Population Economics 25, no. 3 (2012): 1107–1137; “Assessing the Economic Impact of Immigration at the State and Local Level” (report, Immigration Policy Center, Washington, DC, April 13, 2010), http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/assessing-economic-impact-immigrationstate-and-local-level; and “Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians” (report, Immigration Policy Center, Washington, DC, June 19, 2012), http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/strength-diversity-economic-and-political-power-immigrants-latinos-and-asians.
  6. Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri, “Rethinking the Gains from Immigration: Theory and Evidence from the US” (Centre for Economic Policy Research discussion paper no. 5226, 2005); Albert Saiz, “Immigration and Housing Rents in American Cities,” Journal of Urban Economics 61, no. 2 (2007): 345–371; and Dowell Myers, “Immigrants’ Contributions in an Aging America,” Communities & Banking 19, no. 3 (summer 2008), http://www.bostonfed.org/commdev/c&b/2008/summer/myers_immigrants_and_boomers.pdf.
  7. Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor, “Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations” (Williams College Department of Economics Working Papers, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2011); Phil Wood and Charles Landry, The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage(London: Earthscan, 2007); and G. Pascal Zachary, The Diversity Advantage: Multicultural Identity in the New World Economy (New York: Basic Books, 2003).
  8. Richard Florida, “Immigrants and the Wealth of Nations,” http://www.creativeclass.com/_v3/creative_class/2011/04/20/immigrants-and-the-wealth-ofnations.
  9. See http://keystoneresearch.org/sites/default/files/ImmigrantsIn25MetroAreas_20091130.pdf.
  10. See “Overview of Global Detroit Initiative,” http://www.globaldetroit.com/wpcontent/files_mf/1327698551Global_Detroit_Study.overview.pdf.
  11. Dylan Scott, “Immigrant-Friendly Cities Want What Arizona Doesn’t,” Governing Magazine, September 2012, http://www.governing.com/topics/economic-dev/gov-immigrant-friendly-cities-want-what-arizona-doesnt.html#.
  12. Jill Drury and Tom Biedenharn, “Welcome Dayton Immigrant Plan Approved,” WDTN-TV, October 5, 2011, http://www.wdtn.com/dpp/news/local/dayton/welcome-dayton-immigrant-plan-approved.
  13. See http://welcomingmichigan.org/.
  14. See http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/08/can-baltimore-wooimmigrants-its-inner-city/3009.
  15. “In Growing Baltimore, Are Immigrants the Key?” http://www.npr.org/2012/08/03/158049388/in-growing-baltimore-are-immigrants-the-key.
  16. See http://www.slccouncil.com/agendas/2012Agendas/Dec11/121112B3.pdf.
  17. See http://www.bos.frb.org/commdev/data-resources/immigration/index.htm; www.welcomingma.org; www.welcomingri.org; and www.welcomingnh.org.
  18. See http://www.cityofboston.gov/newbostonians/; and http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2012/06/25/immigration-decision-day-at-the-supreme-court-anentrepreneur-responds.
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Stronger Together

Welcoming America | May 28, 2013

Stronger Together: An Economic Messaging Toolkit from Welcoming America

Learn about how to make the case for shared prosperity through welcoming immigrants in this new communications toolkit from Welcoming America. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"59","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-4209 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"200","height":"260","alt":"Cover Image"}}]]In this new toolkit, you'll find: - New messages to help you communicate in ways that resonate with businesses, governments, and other community members - Tools to identify key audiences and frame an appropriate message for them - Ideas and pitfalls to avoid when using economic arguments Although the messages recommended in this toolkit are pragmatic in nature and focused on the economic benefits a community receives by welcoming immigrants, each of them is still rooted in the core values of the welcoming movement—the belief that we are all better off when everyone who lives in a community feels like a part of it. Download Stronger Together here Go Back

New Ways to Donate to Welcoming America

Welcoming America | May 10, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"57","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-medium wp-image-4102 alignleft","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"230","title":"Grant and Volunteer Match Program Screenshot","alt":""}}]]Welcoming America is pleased to announce that we have expanded our fundraising efforts to include a mobile giving and employer gift/volunteer match program! Mobile Giving Through our mobile giving program, donors can now text WELCOME to 85944 to make a $10 donation, which will then be added to their next cell phone bill.  If donors would like to give a more generous gift, they can text WELCOME and the amount they’d like to donate (for example: “WELCOME 100” for a $100 donation) to 41444 to receive a link to a donation fulfillment page. Gift/Volunteer Match Program Many companies offer a Matching Gift program where they match employees’ donations to Welcoming America, and most will even match donations made at any point during the previous 12 months!  Additionally, many employers also offer a Volunteer Grant program where they donate to our organization based on their employees’ volunteer hours with us.   To participate in these programs using only a few minutes of your time, please click here. We encourage you to spread the word on these new initiatives, and we are excited to work with you to help Welcoming America grow! Go Back

Welcoming America Shares Experience in Canada

Welcoming America | March 13, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"55","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-medium wp-image-4024 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"219","height":"300","title":"flyer","alt":""}}]] Last week, Welcoming America’s Deputy Director, Rachel Steinhardt traveled to Canada to share the organization’s experience with colleagues in Ottawa and throughout Canada.  The event,  “Fostering Welcoming Climates,” was hosted by the US Embassy in Ottawa, Jewish Family Services of Ottawa, the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, and numerous other local partners, and was broadcast live to US Embassies across Canada and the globe.
A news story published in the Ottawa Citizen discussed the event and work of Welcoming America, and its resonance in Canada. The session explored the context for welcoming communities in a world increasingly shaped by global migration, in which there are significant economic rewards for communities can attract the talent and ideas and vitality that newcomers bring.  In order to reap these rewards, communities must create receptive and welcoming environments, and work to build positive relationships between immigrants and receiving communities.  The event also featured a screening of the film Hawo’s Dinner Party: The New Face of Southern Hospitality.   To access the presentation, visit: conx.state.gov/canada.
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Will you join us in building more welcoming communities?

Welcoming America | December 18, 2012

This holiday season, we ask you to make a donation and join us in creating stronger, more immigrant-friendly communities across the country.  Just imagine what we could achieve if every community in America committed to building a welcoming climate, where all are welcome, accepted and integrated.  Highlights document
With your support, every city and town in America could join with places like Salt Lake City, Utah,  East Providence, Rhode Island, Tucson, Arizona and Dayton, Ohio – and more than a dozen other cities and towns to date – in proclaiming themselves welcoming communities that live up to the highest American values of acceptance and equality. With your help, we know it’s possible to make every community a welcoming one.  And the time for this work is now. At no time in our nation's history has there been a greater need to reach out to those with fears about their changing communities, nor a greater opportunity to support immigrants and their successful integration, and to secure a positive future for all Americans. We have the tools to be successful, and we have already accomplished so much.  Community by community, Welcoming America and its partners across the country have brought together more than 20,000 thousand of U.S. and foreign-born individuals around the country to find common ground, and to celebrate a simple shared belief: immigrants make us stronger.  Learn more about the impact your support can make and our accomplishments in the past year alone.  Then, join us today by making a gift, and help make the dream of a more welcoming America come true.
About Your Gift  Your gift of $25, $50, $100 or $250 can make all the difference in building a nation of neighbors that live, work and play in your communities.  Seventy-five cents of every dollar Welcoming America receives goes to support our countrywide network of members, partners and the communities they serve.  Click here to donate. Your donation:
  • Helps leaders around the country transform their towns and cities into Welcoming communities.
  • Changes the messages people hear about immigrants, such as through billboard and poster campaigns.
  • Helps U.S.-born and immigrant community members meet and learn about each other’s values and cultures.
Welcoming America is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Your donation is fully tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.
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At National Affiliate Conference, Welcoming by Definition

Welcoming America | December 14, 2012

What does it mean to build a more Welcoming America? While the answer may be complex, we know that it all begins with a recognition of the talent and potential that every member of a community brings. And nowhere is that spirit more evidenced than in our own diverse community of practitioners - the leaders of Welcoming initiatives, who are the bright stars that remind us every day how much we all have to gain from creating a culture that embraces difference as the greatest force for generating new creativity and ideas. Last week, Welcoming America's affiliate initiative leaders from 21 states across the U.S. met in Atlanta for Welcoming America's 4th annual National Affiliate Conference. Over three days, our affiliates shared their work and experiences, along with their stories of the incredible innovation and impact happening in communities across the country. A powerful lineup of speakers and trainers also shared their wisdom, inspiring participants to address challenging issues - such as how race dynamics play out in our work.  Among the conference highlights: - Keynote speakers Jose Antonio Vargas of Define American and Rinku Sen of the Applied Research Center spoke to the challenges of engaging a broad cross-section of Americans in our work, and inspired us not to shy away from difficult conversations and to embrace our role in leading culture change. Together, we asked the question - how can 2013 become the "Year of the Immigrant Ally?" -  Social media guru Will Coley of Aquifer Media helped us think through how storytelling and media can come together in a powerful way.  Listen to the personal stories we shared. -  Crossroads Anti-Racism Trainer Jessica Vazquez Torres led a thought-provoking conversation on race and identity among new immigrants and how those issues play out in Welcoming work. -   Alternate Roots trainers Priscilla Smith and Stephen Clapp led a lively and FUN training using movement, dance, and art to demonstrate the role of arts and culture in welcoming work. - Sahar Driver of Active Voice  led an engaging conversation on specific ways to reach the unsure with targeted stories and messaging. - Erness Wright-Irwin of the Facilitative Leadership Institute  led a highly popular training on effective group processes, using Technology of Participation training methods. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"52","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-medium wp-image-3880 alignleft","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"193","title":"conf2","alt":""}}]][[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"53","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright size-medium wp-image-3879","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"225","title":"conf4","alt":""}}]] Go Back

America is Changing - How Will Our Communities Adapt?

Welcoming America | November 9, 2012

This week's election placed the changing demographics of the United States front and center.  As our communities continue to evolve, we must adapt to address new challenges, and also recognize that our growing diversity is an asset that contributes to our economic and social  prosperity.   Welcoming America's network of initiatives across the country are a powerful force for building new bridges between newcomers and long-time residents, and for reminding Americans that our communities are strongest when everyone feels welcomed.  This new video from our affiliate, Welcoming Michigan shows us how: Welcoming America thanks Bus 52 for their time and talent in the production of this video. Go Back

Celebrating National Welcoming Week

Welcoming America | September 14, 2012

As Immigrant Welcoming Movement Grows, Communities Unite Across U.S. for National Welcoming Week                                        

  From Dayton to Detroit, a growing movement of cities and local communities are recognizing and promoting the contributions that [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"48","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-thumbnail wp-image-3726 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"150","height":"150","title":"LOGO - National_welcoming_week- jpeg","alt":""}}]]immigrants bring, and developing comprehensive efforts to attract and welcome them.  During 2012 alone, leaders in seven communities in six states have passed “welcoming resolutions,” formal proclamations by elected leaders that articulate an openness to immigrant contributions  and are an alternative to more divisive policies.   This week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed a proclamation recognizing Welcoming Week, and acknowledging a direct connection between the State’s economic future and the need to create welcoming communities. City leaders in New York and Chicago have said they want their cities to be the most “immigrant friendly” in the country and are being joined by a growing number of communities – as recently profiled in Governing magazine - who have determined that being welcoming to immigrants is essential to their continued economic vitality.  These efforts signal that a movement towards welcoming is reaching communities across the U.S.. From September 15th to the 22nd, this chorus will grow, as immigrants and U.S. born individuals come together across the country to create stronger communities during National Welcoming Week.  This week of events is being organized by Welcoming America- an Atlanta-based national non-profit collaborative that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans.  Welcoming Week will bring together efforts around the country that recognize that our communities are strongest when everyone who lives in them feels welcome. Welcoming Week also coincides with Citizenship Day and Constitution Week.  In a proclamation this week, the President stated, “Across our country, Americans are working side-by-side with our Nation's newest citizens to build strong, welcoming communities that embrace the talents and contributions of all their members.” More than 50 events are planned in 20 states; some highlights include: -       In Michigan and Massachusetts, Governors Snyder and Patrick each signed a proclamation recognizing the week in their states. -    Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has also signed a proclamation.  In addition, a new campaign is launching that features ads with nine immigrants’ stories on 24 buses that travel the state reaching about 75 percent of the population. -       In North Carolina and Alabama, immigrants and native-born residents will come together in a spirit of unity to participate in volunteer service projects that will help bring food to the table for local residents. -       In Georgia,  journalist Maria Hinojosa will join with Welcoming America and other local partners in Clarkston, GA - dubbed the “Ellis Island of the South” - to host a community conversation and pre-screening of the upcoming PBS special, America By the Numbers.   About National Welcoming Week National Welcoming Week, September 15-22, aims to build meaningful connections and a spirit of unity between U.S. and foreign-born Americans.   Across the country, immigrants and U.S. born individuals will come together to create stronger communities. They will achieve this goal through local events that build stronger relationships among neighbors through volunteerism, civic participation, and creative expression. The activities held during this week will recognize that our communities are strongest when everyone who lives in them feels welcome. Events will be hosted by Welcoming America affiliates and partners, and are currently planned in 20 states. More than 3,500 immigrants and non-immigrants are expected to participate. 2012 is the inaugural year of National Welcoming Week, which is sponsored by Welcoming America, its affiliates and partners. For more information, visit http://www.welcomingamerica.org/get-involved/welcomingweek2012/ Go Back