America is at a crossroads. From Alabama to Arizona, shuttered storefronts and barren fields tell the story of communities gripped by anxiety and fear. But fortunately there is another path.
Over the last year, Welcoming America and its affiliates have proactively reached out to thousands of individuals around the country to share a simple message: immigrants make us stronger.
Last week, Welcoming affiliate Uniting NC unveiled a new billboard campaign, including the image above. The launch of the billboards received broad media coverage, including yesterday’s story by the Huffington Post.
The billboards will help thousands across North Carolina benefit from their powerful, positive message. It’s but one example of the exciting and proactive work that Welcoming America is supporting around the country.
As the year ends, we welcome you to join us in celebrating just a few of the exiting achievements that Welcoming America, our affiliates, and our supporters made possible over the last year. If you are inspired, please DONATE to Welcoming America today. Your donation will directly support the work of our affiliates across the country.
- Reaching the Untapped: In May, the PBS documentary, Welcome to Shelbyville, which featured our affiliate, Welcoming Tennessee (a project of TIRRC), introduced more than one million Americans to the impact of Welcoming. Thousands more have used the Building a Nation of Neighbors how-to videos from the film (thanks, ActiveVoice!) and our newly-launched Friends of Welcoming.
- Deepening Our Impact: From the redwood forests to the gulf stream waters, Welcoming initiatives took root, and in 2011 the Welcoming affiliate network grew from 13 to 19 members. Our collective efforts to bring native and foreign-born community members into direct contact led to more than 130 events that touched more than 5,000 individuals. Hundreds more around the countyy have become “online welcomers” through our web platform, Friends of Welcoming.
- Engaging New Allies: “Immigrant friendly” initiatives such as Welcome Dayton and Global Detroit are demonstrating how the idea of creating welcoming communities has broad appeal as a key economic development strategy to attract and retain 21st century global talent. Now, Welcoming America is working to spread this approach throughout the country so that more cities and towns can leverage their greatest asset – their diverse population.
- Advancing What Works: Does the broader community play a role in immigrant integration? That was the question that led to our Receiving Communities Initiative, and the answer is a resounding “yes.” For the first time, practitioners can learn about practical strategies to engage the broader public, with our Receiving Communities Toolkit (developed in partnership with the Spring Institute, with support from the J.M.Kaplan Fund). And, hats off to US Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Office of Citizenship for newly incorporating a focus on receiving communities in their latest funding opportunity!
- Sharing Practical Approaches: In addition to launching our interactive web community, Friends of Welcoming, we introducednew practical tools and resources to help groups interested in implementing our three-part strategy of leadership development, strategic communications, and public engagement.
- Keeping it Hip: With the help of artists, musicians, and comedians, we are engaging new audiences by sharing the fun side of welcoming – and drawing on the power of art to open hearts and minds through a project we call You’re Welcome.
- Making it Real: Reaching mainstream America to address fears and doubts about their new immigrant neighbors is not an easy task. But it is possible, as this testimonial makes clear:
“Honestly, I was not so open to immigrants in the past, probably from media portrayals but most likely because we just didn’t interact…. If there were nothing such as Welcoming America .. I think everything would continue in the same way. But thankfully, there is a way to redirect people’s attitudes toward rethinking immigration and immigrants.” – Pat, Michigan
This is is just the start. Individuals around the country are asking Welcoming America for help to reclaim their communities from the grips of fear and divisiveness. We can help them to succeed in reclaiming the spirit of the American dream – but only with your support.
Will you help us to build a nation of neighbors? You can join us today by making a tax-deductible* donation to Welcoming America. Even better, every dollar that is donated will be directed to local communities. Visit our websiteto learn about what we do and why your support matters.
From the Welcoming America team, we wish you a happy holiday season!