The Rural Welcoming Initiative Announcement and Application Information

The Rural Welcoming Initiative - Announcement and Application Information

Timothy Walden | October 17, 2019

Welcoming America is expanding its reach in rural communities.  Through a competitive initiative, we will engage nine new rural communities in strengthening welcoming. Through technical assistance and coaching; free Welcoming America membership; and access to ongoing learning opportunities such as our national conference, online resources, and connections to peer communities, participating communities will build inclusion and become part of the Welcoming movement.


Immigrants and refugees come to this country searching for safety and opportunities for education, employment, and ultimately, to be part of a thriving community.  While some make the large cities of the U.S. their new homes, many follow the opportunities that present themselves in smaller cities and more rural parts of the country.  Rural communities often have quite a bit to offer these newcomers: steady employment, a reasonable cost of living, social cohesion, and for many, the chance to live in a place that is similar in size to where they come from.  While newcomers may initially be drawn to rural places out of economic necessity, they stay when these smaller and more rural places start to become home.  Immigrants and refugees feel welcomed when communities have created programs, partnerships, policies, and opportunities that engage them.  Rural areas often thrive in return in part because their U.S.-born population is typically older, and newcomers often help revitalize and add vibrancy to rural communities. 
The Opportunity
Welcoming America solicits applications from rural communities that are not yet members of Welcoming America but have an interest in deepening their welcoming practices.  Communities with populations less than 50,000 that are not considered suburbs of a metropolitan area are encouraged to apply.

Support Offered
Nine rural communities new to Welcoming America’s Network will receive the following support:

  • Free Welcoming Network membership. Each rural community will receive a free 2020 core membership in the Welcoming Network. Membership benefits include access to training, technical assistance, and peer exchange opportunities including two free registrations to Welcoming America’s annual conference. More on membership can be found at
  • Coaching and Technical Assistance.  Each community will be eligible to receive 4 hours of individualized coaching and technical assistance to support their local work.  Each will have a coach to help ensure their technical assistance needs are fully met.  A coach from Welcoming America will provide regular telephone consultations to help rural communities establish welcoming goals, address challenges, and connect to helpful resources, as appropriate. Some communities will also be eligible for an in-person visit/training. 
  • Peer Learning. Rural communities will be provided the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other both virtually and in-person at Welcoming America’s national conference, the Welcoming Interactive, that will be held in Charlotte, NC June 3-5, 2020

10/21/2019:        Rural Welcoming Communities application opens
11/7/2019:          Applicant briefing webinar, 1:00-2:00 ET 
11/29/2019:        Applications are due to Welcoming America by 5:00 p.m. ET 
12/20/2019:        Selected sites are announced and coaching begins

Proposal Review Criteria

  • Evidence of strong interest and readiness to join Welcoming America’s network.
  • Track record of working to advance inclusion in the community.
  • Evidence of being able to convene and engage a diverse set of residents of different backgrounds.
  • A promising approach to advancing welcoming work in rural communities.
  • Population less than 50,000 in a city that is not considered a suburb of a metropolitan area.
  • Availability for at least one representative to attend the Welcoming Interactive, June 3-5, 2020.
  • Commitment to advance at least one of the following actions in the 2020 membership year:

Application Process
This request solicits applications from local governments and local nonprofit 501c(3) organizations that are located in a community of less than 50,000 that is not considered a suburb of a metropolitan area. National organizations are ineligible to apply.
A webinar to address Frequently Asked Questions will be held on Thursday, November 7th from
1-2pm ET. To register, please click here (or copy and paste into your web browser). This webinar will be recorded and will be made available upon request for those unable to join.
Applications are due by Friday, November 29th at 5pm ET. To apply, click here.
All communities will be notified of the selection committee’s decision by December 20th, 2019.

Submission Requirements
Applications are due by November 29th at 5pm ET. To apply, click here.

Optional: Provide up to two letters of support from local partners who know your work. If you would like to submit letters of support, please send these to [email protected] with the subject line “The Rural Welcoming Initiative” by the deadline of November 29th at 5pm ET.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to listen to the recorded webinar from Thursday, November 7th for additional information. Questions about the application can be sent to [email protected] 
About Welcoming America
Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities across the nation that are becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feels like they belong. Through a membership network of 200 local governments and nonprofits spanning 500 communities, Welcoming America connects and supports communities to develop plans, programs, and policies that overcome the fears that demographic change can bring and transform neighborhoods into vibrant places where people respect each other and everyone's talents are valued and cultivated.

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