Welcoming Standard 2.0 Public Comment
The Welcoming Standard captures the core of what it means to be welcoming, serving as the backbone for Welcoming America’s program and partnership priorities. From September to November 2021, an updated draft version of the Welcoming Standard will be available to the public on this page as part of the public comment period. Please use the content here to inform your feedback and comments on the public survey:
If you prefer to email your comments on this draft, send them to [email protected].
Welcoming Standard version 2.0
Goal: Welcoming communities have infrastructure in place to support immigrant participation, inclusion, and equity. The local government and community based organizations regularly seek feedback from immigrant residents to understand the challenges and priorities of immigrant residents. Institutions work closely together to prioritize and build capacity to implement immigrant participation, inclusion, and equity strategies.
GL 1 A group of local leaders and residents regularly convenes to advance community-wide welcoming efforts.
- 1.1 The group is staffed and resourced.
- 1.2 Participants reflect the diversity of the community in demographics, constituencies, and sectors.
- 1.3 The group has a process in place to ensure regular bidirectional communication with immigrant communities.
GL 2 The group collectively sets goals of advancing a community-wide welcoming effort.
- 2.1 These goals are informed by feedback from immigrant and non-immigrant residents representing the diversity in the community.
- 2.2 The group monitors progress and adjusts strategies to meet goals.
- 2.3 There is a process in place to update the goals with feedback from immigrant and non-immigrant residents.
GL 3 The local government has one or more staff positions charged with advancing immigrant participation, inclusion, and equity efforts.
- 3.1 The staff person(s) actively participates in the group (GL 1) advancing immigrant participation, inclusion, and equity.
GL 4 Programs build the capacity and commitment of local government departments and agencies to serve and engage immigrant residents.
- 4.1 Programs build the capacity and commitment of the fire department and EMS.
- 4.2 Programs build the capacity and commitment of departments that enforce local code.
- 4.3 Programs build the capacity and commitment of law enforcement.
- 4.4 Programs build the capacity and commitment of dispatch.
- 4.5 Programs build the capacity and commitment of the health department.
- 4.6 Programs build the capacity and commitment of child protective services.
- 4.7 Programs build the capacity and commitment of recreational services.
- 4.8 Programs build the capacity and commitment of departments tasked with land use planning and zoning.
- 4.9 Programs build the capacity and commitment of departments tasked with business services.
- 4.10 Programs build the capacity and commitment of departments tasked with community development and planning.
GL 5 Programs engage other jurisdictions on adopting and implementing welcoming policies and programs across the region.
GL 6 Local government immigrant-focused efforts are connected to and reinforce its broader equity work.
GL 7 The local government supports and strengthens the capacity of community based organizations working on immigrant participation, inclusion, and equity.
- 7.1 The local government supports and strengthens ethnic community based groups and organizations.
GL 8 The local government takes an active approach toward employing staff that reflects the diversity of the community.
- 8.1 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to inclusive hiring.
- 8.2 A process is in place to identify and address barriers in retaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community.
Goal: Welcoming communities prioritize safety for all residents, including immigrants. Policies and practices are in place that prevent discrimination. Strong, trusting relationships are built between immigrant residents and local safety services, such as law enforcement, fire departments, code enforcement, and emergency response. Effective bidirectional communication between safety services and immigrant residents exists, and programs are in place to address implicit and structural bias. Community partnerships are built to identify and address needs and gaps in services.
SC 1 Law enforcement agencies have processes and policies in place to build trust and mutual understanding with immigrant communities and immigrant-serving organizations.
- 1.1 Law enforcement agencies have a process to work with immigrant residents and immigrant-serving organizations to identify concerns and challenges about policing.
- 1.2 Law enforcement agencies publicly share data on race, ethnicity, gender, and geography in law enforcement policies, arrests, jail population, use of deadly force, language access use, and resident complaints.
- 1.3 A staff position is charged with advancing immigrant inclusion efforts within the law
- enforcement agency.
SC 2 Law enforcement agencies have processes in place to ensure regular communication with immigrant communities.
- 2.1 Law enforcement staff receive regular training on the department’s language access policy and on resources available to conduct business in languages other than English.
- 2.2 Law enforcement agencies assess their language access needs and uses in order to improve their ability to conduct business in languages other than English.
SC 3 Law enforcement staff receive training on working with diverse residents, including immigrants.
- 3.1 Law enforcement staff receive training regularly over the course of their career.
SC 4 A policy is in place that clarifies the jurisdiction and separation between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement.
SC 5 Programs inform immigrants about their rights and responsibilities under the law.
- 5.1 Programs inform immigrants about criminal and civil laws and their rights and responsibilities when interacting with law enforcement and the legal system.
- 5.2 Programs inform immigrants about immigration law and their rights and responsibilities when interacting with immigration enforcement and the detention system.
SC 6 Emergency management and response efforts include immigrants in their planning, education, communication, and outreach.
- 6.1 Emergency notification platforms are available to residents in languages other than English.
- 6.2 Emergency management agencies have a plan to inform immigrants of a community emergency through communication methods that are most effective in reaching speakers of languages other than English.
- 6.3 Emergency management teams engage immigrant residents in preparing for, responding to, and understanding the impact of emergencies.
SC 7 Public safety agencies have a process in place to regularly assess and address the needs and priorities of immigrant residents.
- 7.1 The fire department regularly assesses the needs and priorities of immigrant residents and has a plan to address them.
- 7.2 Departments responsible for enforcing housing code regularly assess the needs and priorities of immigrant residents and work to address them.
- 7.3 Departments responsible for enforcing health code regularly assess the needs and priorities of immigrant residents and work to address them.
- 7.4 Departments responsible for enforcing building and construction code regularly assess the needs and priorities of immigrant residents and work to address them.
SC 8 Programs and law enforcement collaborate to identify and support immigrant victims of crime.
- 8.1 Programs train immigrant leaders to identify victims of human trafficking.
- 8.2 Programs connect immigrant victims with available community resources.
- 8.3 Programs support immigrants to report crimes to relevant local, state, and federal agencies.
Goal: Welcoming communities ensure that all residents, including immigrants, are able to fully participate in civic life. Immigrant residents have access to democratic spaces, and shape community priorities and policies. Immigrants hold leadership roles in the community, and local institutions are invested in increasing access to leadership positions for immigrant residents.
CE 1 Programs build immigrant civic leadership.
- 1.1 Programs provide information on how the local government works and its responsibilities to residents.
- 1.2 Programs provide information on navigating and accessing government and community resources.
- 1.3 Programs provide information on the local and national history of othering, exclusion, and belonging in the United States and how this history manifests currently in the community
- 1.4 Programs connect immigrants with government and community civic engagement opportunities.
- 1.5 Programs are accessible to speakers of languages other than English.
CE 2 Programs build immigrant youth leadership.
CE 3 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to immigrants participation in local government decision making spaces.
- 3.1 The process identifies and addresses barriers to immigrants participating in public hearings and meetings.
- 3.2 The process identifies and addresses barriers to immigrant participation on local government commissions and boards.
- 3.3 The process identifies and addresses language access needs for participation in public hearings and meetings.
- 3.4 The process identifies and addresses language access needs for participation in public boards and commissions.
CE 4 Programs support immigrants in obtaining U.S. citizenship.
- 4.1 Programs identify and address barriers to naturalization for eligible immigrants.
CE 5 Programs support eligible immigrants in voting.
- 5.1 Programs engage state and local election offices to identify and address barriers to voting for eligible immigrants.
- 5.2 Programs provide information on elections, ballot issues, and candidates.
GOAL: Welcoming communities build connections and trust between residents. Community institutions — including local government, businesses, faith communities, and nonprofits — create opportunities and spaces for immigrant and non-immigrant residents to have constructive interactions, develop relationships, and deepen their understanding of one another. Institutions support residents in building their personal capacity to engage with people different from themselves on equal footing and in sustained ways that reduce prejudice and strengthen diverse community relationships.
CC 1 Ongoing programs bring together immigrant and non-immigrant residents to build and strengthen relationships.
- 1.1 Programs bring together immigrant and non-immigrant residents to identify and work together on common interests, challenges, or opportunities.
- 1.2 Programs bring together immigrant and non-immigrant youth to build relationships.
- 1.3 The local government surveys residents about their experiences in the community that have contributed to their sense of belonging in order to guide programs that build relationships between immigrants and non-immigrants.
CC 2 The group advancing immigrant inclusion (see GL1) is connected to broader equity work in the community.
- 2.1 The group (see GL1) collaborates with local African American leaders..
- 2.2 The group (see GL1) collaborates with Indigenous leaders.
- 2.3 Programs work to address biases held by immigrant residents including race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.
CC 3 There is ongoing public communication from the local government about the commitment to being welcoming.
- 3.1 The local government does not make public statements discouraging immigration or immigrant inclusion.
- 3.2 The local government does not make public statements directly attacking individuals or groups on the basis of their immigration status, national origin, religion, ethnicity, race, gender, ancestry, sexual orientation, or ability.
CC 4 The local government participates in celebrations of immigrant cultures, customs, and beliefs.
- 4.1 The local government acknowledges cultural and religious holidays that reflect the diversity of the local community.
CC 5 Public spaces contribute to a sense of belonging for diverse residents.
- 5.1 Public recreational spaces reflect the diverse interests of the immigrant community.
- 5.2 Public buildings include signage in languages other than English spoken in the community.
- 5.3 Public buildings include art that reflect the diverse artistic traditions of the community.
Goal: In welcoming communities, all residents — including immigrants — can participate fully in the economy. Workforce and economic development infrastructure address the priorities and needs of immigrant residents and immigrant jobseekers. Programs that support entrepreneurship, business development, and workforce development are accessible to all residents, including immigrants. Local businesses are committed to diverse hiring and retaining employees with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
EC 1 Programs work toward high quality employment for immigrant job seekers.
- 1.1 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to full employment for immigrant job seekers.
- 1.2 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to underemployment and brain waste in the immigrant community.
- 1.3 Programs support immigrant job seekers in communicating their foreign work experience and skills for U.S. employers.
EC 2 Programs support immigrant adults in accessing additional education to obtain the skills and degrees required to meet their employment goals.
- 2.1 Programs support immigrants in meeting licensing, certification, and credentialing requirements.
- 2.2 Programs provide contextualized ESOL classes.
EC 3 Programs collaborate with state and local workforce agencies to increase immigrant access to their services.
- 3.1 Programs provide information to local workforce agencies on current and projected local immigration trends and the unique barriers faced by immigrant jobseekers.
- 3.2 Programs work with relevant state agencies to identify and address barriers to occupational licensing for immigrant residents.
EC 4 Local employers, chambers of commerce, and economic development agencies are engaged in immigrant inclusion, participation, and equity efforts.
EC 5 Programs work with local employers to build welcoming work environments.
- 5.1 Programs work with employers to identify and address barriers to hiring immigrant job seekers.
- 5.2 Programs work with employers and immigrant communities to identify and address barriers to retaining immigrant employees.
- 5.3 Programs provide mentorship opportunities for immigrant employees.
EC 6 Programs support immigrant business owners in starting, sustaining, and growing their businesses.
- 6.1 A process is in place to regularly assess and address barriers for immigrant entrepreneurs and business owners.
- 6.2 Programs provide business-to-business networking and mentorship opportunities.
- 6.3 Programs support immigrant business owners in accessing capital to start, sustain, and grow their businesses.
- 6.4 Programs assist immigrant business owners with navigating business regulations.
- 6.5 Processes identify barriers and solutions to obtaining local government procurement and contracting opportunities.
Goal: Welcoming communities ensure local services are accessible to all residents, including immigrants. Immigrant residents provide feedback to local government and community based organizations to identify and address demographic disparities and gaps in services, and to improve access to programs, particularly in the areas of housing, health, transportation, financial services, and the justice system.
EA 1 The local government provides meaningful language access across its departments, with the goal of expanding equitable access to programs and services.
- 1.1 The local government provides regular training to its staff about available language access requirements, language access resources, and working with speakers of languages other than English.
- 1.2 The local government regularly assesses language access needs and usage across departments in order to improve each department’s ability to conduct business in languages other than English.
- 1.3 The local government has a language access policy.
EA 2 Local government departments disseminate information on government services, resources, and public benefits with the goal of expanding access to immigrants.
- 2.1 Information is provided in languages other than English.
- 2.2 Information is provided in simplified English.
- 2.3 Information is disseminated through communications methods that are most effective in reaching speakers of languages other than English.
EA 3 Programs support equitable access to healthcare services for immigrants.
- 3.1 Programs support immigrants in navigating and accessing health insurance options.
- 3.2 Programs address barriers to immigrants accessing and navigating preventative healthcare.
- 3.3 Programs address barriers to immigrants accessing and navigating mental health services.
- 3.4 Programs address barriers to immigrants accessing and navigating maternal and infant healthcare.
- 3.5 Programs address barriers to immigrants accessing and navigating dental and optical health services.
EA 4 Programs support equitable access to nutritious food.
EA 5 Programs support equitable access to housing for immigrants.
- 5.1 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to accessing rental housing for immigrants.
- 5.2 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to homeownership for immigrants.
EA 6 Programs support equitable access to transportation for immigrants.
- 6.1 A process is in place to identify and address gaps and priorities in access to transportation for immigrants.
- 6.2 Programs inform immigrants of public transportation options.
- 6.3 Programs work with the state government and/or regional transit authorities on expanding access to transportation, including addressing the needs and priorities of immigrant residents.
EA 7 Programs support immigrants in navigating the legal system.
- 7.1 Programs ensure language access is available throughout the legal system.
- 7.2 Programs provide training on the implications of immigration status in cases to legal counsel.
- 7.3 Programs provide legal advice to immigrants on civil and criminal matters.
- 7.4 Programs inform immigrants on workers’ rights, workplace safety, and access to legal advice on employment and workplace issues.
EA 8 Programs support equitable digital inclusion for immigrants.
- 8.1 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to digital inclusion for immigrant residents.
- 8.2 Programs provide digital literacy training to immigrant residents.
EA 9 Programs support equitable access to financial saving and wealth-building programs.
- 9.1 Programs inform immigrants about the U.S. financial system and build financial skills.
- 9.2 Programs support equitable access to banking and fair lending for immigrants.
- 9.3 Programs provide credit building opportunities for immigrants.
Goal: In welcoming communities, the education system ensures all students, including immigrant students, have the support they need to thrive in school and the knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce. Schools and community education programs are informed by the needs and priorities of immigrant students and parents, and are accessible to all residents, including immigrants. Welcoming and inclusion efforts are not siloed within a single school or program, but incorporated into the schools and school districts that serve the community.
ED 1 Programs support and advance immigrant family engagement in their child’s education.
- 1.1 A process is in place to identify and address barriers for immigrant families in navigating the local education system.
- 1.2 A process is in place to identify and address barriers for immigrant family participation in family engagement programs.
- 1.3 Immigrant families receive language accessible information about services available through the education system, along with information on their educational rights.
ED 2 Programs address disparities in access to early childhood education and care for immigrant children.
- 2.1 A process is in place to understand and address the challenges and priorities of immigrant parents in accessing early childhood education and care.
- 2.2 Programs engage the state government on expanding access to early childhood education and care programs for immigrant children.
ED 3 The local K-12 school system(s) works to ensure equitable educational outcomes for immigrant students.
- 3.1 Programs train educators and staff on teaching and supporting diverse student populations.
- 3.2 Programs support immigrant student access to mental health services.
- 3.3 Programs support immigrant students in understanding and accessing higher education opportunities.
- 3.4 Programs support immigrant students in understanding and accessing local opportunities for technical and career readiness training.
- 3.5 Programs support students that have limited or interrupted formal education to attain their educational goals.
ED 4 Programs work to create a welcoming environment for students in K-12 schools.
- 4.1 Programs work with schools to regularly collect feedback from immigrant families on the school environment.
- 4.2 Programs work with school staff and students to set goals for creating welcoming environments.
- 4.3 Extracurricular and enrichment activities are accessible to immigrant students.
- 4.4 Programs support bridge building activities between immigrant and non-immigrant youth.
- 4.5 Schools recognize and support cultural events and religious observations of students.
ED 5 Adult education infrastructure is accessible to immigrant adults.
- 5.1 A process is in place to identify and address barriers to the adult education infrastructure for immigrant adults.
- 5.2 Programs build the capacity of the adult education system to meet local demand for English language classes.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Welcoming Standard captures the core of what it means to be an inclusive and welcoming 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 and refugee inclusion.
The Welcoming Standard covers seven categories critical to building a welcoming community: Government and Community Leadership; Civic Engagement; Equitable Access; Education; Connected Communities; Economic Development; and Safe Communities. The Welcoming Standard establishes a benchmark to help local leaders in identifying where and how their welcoming efforts could be furthered, and to assess their progress in building and sustaining a welcoming community.
Communities participating in Welcoming America’s certification program, Certified Welcoming, are formally assessed against the Welcoming Standard. Welcoming America launched the Certified Welcoming in 2017 to establish a formal designation for cities and counties that have taken action on their commitment to welcoming. Participants complete a rigorous independent audit to evaluate their compliance with the Welcoming Standard.
Many communities proclaim themselves as welcoming places or espousing welcoming values, but to date, there is no common definition for what this means or looks like in practice. The Welcoming Standard is Welcoming America's attempt to define what welcoming is, while also setting the benchmarks that communities can use to create a roadmap for becoming more welcoming and holding welcoming places accountable.
- Set a high benchmark for welcoming communities.
- Measure, recognize, and reward welcoming work.
The first version of the Welcoming Standard was published in 2017 after an 18-month process that included input from the nation’s leading experts -- practitioners, academics, and business and civic leaders -- and gathered public feedback to identify the policies and programs that constitute the Welcoming Standard. See the current published version of the Welcoming Standard and who helped develop it
To update the Welcoming Standard, Welcoming America aims to follow best practices in standard system design set out by ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practice on Standard Setting, including following the ISEAL Credibility principles for standard setting.
In updating the Welcoming Standard, Welcoming America has sought input from stakeholders, including its members and experts in the field. To create a draft for the public comment period, Input was sought from our Content Advisory Board and Technical Committee. Input from a diverse range of stakeholders is important and diversity of expertise, demographics (including immigrant and refugee background), geography, and sector were considered when appointing members to the Content Advisory Board and Technical Committee. See the full list of members of the Technical Committee and the Content Advisory Committee.
The draft of the Welcoming Standard is available for public comment is published on the Welcoming America website and available for comment through an online survey or be emailing [email protected] While the public at large is encouraged to weigh in on the draft of the Welcoming Standard, Welcoming America is targeting communities in its network to provide feedback.
In addition to the online survey and web-based feedback, Welcoming America contracted with nonprofit organization Wave Pool for an interactive art installation at the 2021 National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) to elicit feedback from conference attendees.
Information gathered from the public comment period will be used to revise the draft, with an emphasis on determining priorities for criteria to include in the Welcoming Standard and any gaps or criteria that are missing. This next draft of the Welcoming Standard will be reviewed and approved by the Content Advisory Board and Technical Committee before being published.
Welcoming America is committed to ensuring the Welcoming Standard is applicable and feasible in diverse communities, including size and government type (e.g. city, county, and merged city-county). Welcoming America plans to pilot the draft Welcoming Standard in three communities before publishing the completed version. Communities interested in being a pilot site are encouraged to contact us at [email protected].
The public comment period will be open for 60 days until November 13, 2021.
Our goal is to publish Welcoming Standard version 2.0 by the summer of 2022.