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A Welcoming Moment

Welcoming America | November 21, 2014

Yesterday, the President announced Administrative Relief, a new program that will protect millions of immigrants from deportation. Regardless of the debate in Washington, where this policy will play out is in our communities. How we respond during this welcoming moment will reflect our commitment to the values that define us as Americans.

Over the next several months, communities across the country will have an important choice to make about how they treat those who are eligible to participate. Those who qualify already have deep roots in our communities. They are members of the local PTA, parishioners in the local church, and coaches of the local soccer team. If communities are welcoming and step up to the plate with their support and resources, we can succeed. We can succeed not only by making sure that no one is too afraid to enroll, but also by ensuring that millions can finally more fully participate and feel a sense of belonging in their communities. After all, when we feel welcome, we are much more likely to share our talents, ideas, and inspirations with those around us. Imagine the positive implications for our communities.

Welcoming America – and our network representing municipal governments and non-profits in over 70 communities across the country – stands ready to respond: 

  • We are here to support all communities interested in fostering a positive local response to this welcoming moment by sharing our expertise in engaging receiving communities around immigration.
  • We will also help public, non-profit, and private institutions in communities collaborate on enrollment, as well as on creating more welcoming climates and policies for immigrants beyond enrollment. The latter is, after all, what we do every day.
  • More details on our support, which will include practical tools and webinars among other efforts, will be coming soon from our team.

Welcoming communities believe that it’s not what you look like or where you were born that makes you American – it’s how you live your life and what you do that defines your place in the community. Every day, communities around the country and across the globe are recognizing that being welcoming makes them more economically competitive and vibrant places for all residents.

By working together, we can make sure that our communities seize this historic opportunity. When we look back years from now, we will remember that we embraced the potential of millions of New Americans. We will celebrate that we invited diverse new neighbors to join us in building a stronger community and that we all became better for it.

Onward toward a more welcoming America!

David Lubell

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WA Updates: Children Fleeing Violence, NIIC, Job Opening & More

Welcoming America | October 8, 2014

Mayors and County Executives Come Out In Support of Children Fleeing Violence

In continuation of our campaign to support children fleeing violence from Central America, Welcoming America recently released a letter signed by 13 Mayors and County Executives from some of the nation’s largest communities in which they promise to compassionately support and welcome the children.

Reflecting a symbolic cross section of America, this initial group of local leaders is showing tremendous leadership among a growing number of communities that have been willing and able to ensure that the children are cared for – garnering attention from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Spanish-language Associated Press, and Latin Post. For more information on this momentous step, including the list of signatories, click here

Welcoming America is Hiring!

Welcoming America is seeking to fill a position for a Welcoming Cities and Counties Program Director, with applications requested by October 15th. We encourage you to share this opening with your network!

Register Today for the National Immigrant Integration Conference 2014

Join us for the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) 2014 in Los Angeles on December 14-16 for the opportunity to come together and help define the future direction of immigrant inclusion and integration in America! At NIIC, you'll have the opportunity to strategize deeply and come away inspired to continue working to build immigrant integration nationwide.

Welcoming America is proud to again be partnering with the NIIC 2014 to offer the Receiving Communities Track. Join the conversation to learn and share new models and strategies for creating welcoming, supportive, and economically vibrant communities where both immigrants and U.S.-born residents can thrive.

NIIC 2014 is co-hosted by the National Partnership for New Americans and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

More Buzz from National Welcoming Week

- We recognize the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs  in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for organizing an amazing 45 events for Welcoming Week! From panel discussions, to cultural showcases, to workshops, to award ceremonies, the City of Brotherly Love is a true exemplar for celebrating newcomers.

- In Fort Morgan, Colorado, local organizations and institutions adopted a proclamation affirming common values for a diverse community, and these groups were recognized at an event hosted by Cargill that celebrated an increased commitment to inclusiveness in the community.

For more on 2014 National Welcoming Week, read our blog.

Welcoming Week saw tangible and momentous policy change for immigrant inclusion and welcome. 

Get a deeper picture of how the South is leading the country in these efforts from Kate Brick of Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA).

Also learn about the big picture, long-term impact of the welcoming movement through compelling pieces from Emerson Collective and Legacy Cities.

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US Mayors: “We will provide compassion and care for children fleeing violence”

Welcoming America | October 1, 2014

Today, Welcoming America released a letter signed by Mayors and County Executives from some of the nation’s largest communities in which they promise to compassionately support and welcome the young children from Central America seeking refuge in the US.  Reflecting a symbolic cross section of America, this initial group of Mayors and County Executives are showing tremendous leadership among a growing number of communities that have been willing and able to ensure that children are cared for. “As leaders of the nation’s cities and counties, we remind the American public that the moral compass of our nation resides in our local communities. We call on our residents and leaders across the country to respond with compassion and concern for the welfare of all children, and to join us in doing all we can to live up to our values as a just and welcoming nation,” the letter states. Mayors Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Georgia, Martin J. Walsh of Boston, Massachusetts, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Illinois, Stephen K. Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Michael B. Hancock of Denver, Colorado, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, California, Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Peduto of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Daniel L. Bianchi of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Edward B. Murray of Seattle, Washington, Francis G. Slay of St. Louis, Missouri, Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson, Arizona, and County Executive Isiah Leggett of Montgomery County, Maryland all signed the letter. “As we reflect back on the initial concerns raised around children fleeing violence, we see that our values have prevailed.  These leaders are demonstrating that communities have responded with compassion, and can successfully help children in need, now and into the future,” said Welcoming America Executive Director, David Lubell. “This isn’t a political issue – it’s a humanitarian one,” said Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Georgia. “I’m proud to sign this statement with my colleagues. As the moral compass of our country, we recognize that being welcoming is consistent with our values as a nation and that includes taking care of the welfare of all of the children in our communities.” You can find a copy of the statement here and below.


We Will Provide Compassion and Care for Children: A Statement of the Nation’s City and County Leaders Today, children fleeing horrific violence are seeking shelter and safety in the United States.  These young children from Central America have often traveled thousands of miles, have suffered abuse along the way, and have surrendered themselves to U.S. border patrol agents, asking for our help. As leaders of the nation’s cities and counties, we remind the American public that the moral compass of our nation resides in our local communities.  We call on our residents and leaders across the country to respond with compassion and concern for the welfare of all children, and to join us in doing all we can to live up to our values as a just and welcoming nation. As Americans, we will not turn our backs on children. Fortunately, the majority of these children have family living in our communities who are longing to take care of their loved ones. Local governments, community organizations and volunteers across the country are working together to assist these families and provide shelter and care for the few who do not have it. We will do our part to support their efforts, as well as those of faith communities who are leading the call to help children in need. As Americans, we also believe in the values of freedom, justice, and due process. We will listen to these children and treat them fairly. The children should have a chance to tell their story and the law should be applied fairly and in accordance with our justice system. The children are also young, scared, and need a trusted adult looking out for their interests, whether as a translator, legal advocate or care provider.  Volunteers in our towns and cities are already stepping up to provide this help, and we commit to supporting their efforts in whatever way we can. We believe, and know, our local communities to be welcoming communities. Whether our residents were born here or traveled thousands of miles to join us, we all look out for one another and for our families. Our values – and for many of us, our empathy as parents with young children of our own – remind us that our greatest strength lies in our ability to work together and care for one another.  As local governments, we will play an essential role in bringing our communities together to strengthen our ability to respond compassionately. We know that our nation can and will respond with courage and compassion, just as we always have in moments of adversity.  We are proud that our nation’s cities and counties are leading the way and of what our communities are already doing to be welcoming places, and hope that you and your community will join us.

Mayor Kasim Reed, City of Atlanta, Georgia

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, City of Boston, Massachusetts

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City of Chicago, Illinois

Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, City of Columbia, South Carolina

Mayor Michael B. Hancock City of Denver, Colorado

Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles, California

County Executive Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County, Maryland

Mayor Michael A. Nutter City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mayor William Peduto, City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Mayor Edward B. Murray, City of Seattle, Washington

Mayor Francis G. Slay, City of St. Louis, Missouri

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, City of Tucson, Arizona

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A Historic Day for Atlanta

Welcoming America | September 19, 2014

Yesterday at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Mayor Kasim Reed and members of the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group announced that the City of Atlanta will be implementing 20 strategies that will foster a welcoming environment for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin. Welcoming America Executive Director David Lubell spoke at the press conference, celebrating the leadership of the Mayor and community and thanking them for the opportunity to play a key role in guiding local stakeholders in the process. Welcoming America is grateful we could help Atlanta get to this momentous point, and we are honored to help celebrate this achievement, which coincides with National Welcoming Week, our national event highlighting the contributions of immigrants from across the globe and their instrumental impact on the day-to-day lives of all Americans.

The commitments will focus on community engagement, developing and harnessing talent, and public safety and include the establishment of an Office of Multicultural Affairs and other efforts that reduce barriers to full civic participation, expand economic opportunity, build trust with law enforcement, and foster positive relationships between the receiving community and new arrivals. Coverage of this announcement appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and WABE 90.1.

Metro Atlanta boasts the second fastest-growing foreign-born population in the country, second only to Baltimore, whose Mayor also this week announced a number of efforts aimed at making the city a more welcoming one. This trend reflects the growing number of cities who are incorporating welcoming initiatives as a strategy to promote economic vitality. Learn more about immigrants' contributions to Georgia from the Atlanta Regional CommissionPartnership for a New American Economy, and Immigration Policy Center.

“As Atlanta positions itself to be a global leader, attracting and retaining talent is imperative,” said Mayor Reed. “The Welcoming Atlanta initiative builds upon the existing priorities for the city – public safety, welfare, economic development, civic engagement, and education – and in so doing, will not only create an environment that is welcoming to new arrivals, but a stronger community for all Atlantans.”

Welcoming America has worked with Mayor Reed since October 2013, when Atlanta became the 21st city to join the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative. The Mayor then announced his support at an event with business and civic leaders, sponsored by Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of CommerceWelcoming America, and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  AS/COA and the Partnership for a New American Economy have been vital partners in supporting the initiative in Atlanta and other initiative cities, including Nashville and Charlotte.

The commitments announced by the Mayor are also reflective of the incredible leadership of business, government, and nonprofit leaders from Atlanta, brought together by the Mayor through his Welcoming Atlanta Working Group. The 20-member group was tasked with developing recommendations to ensure that Atlanta’s newly arrived communities are being integrated and supported. Over the course of the summer, Welcoming Group co-chairs Jeffrey Tapia, Executive Director of the Latin American Association, and Charles Kuck, Managing Partner of Kuck Immigration Partners, met regularly with over 100 subcommittee members to craft a comprehensive set of strategies to advance immigrant inclusion and a more receptive climate.

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What do 13k Americans and the City of Detroit share?

Welcoming America | September 15, 2014

Answer: They're all participating in National Welcoming Week!

While Washington continues to debate immigration, communities small and large, rural and urban, are moving full steam ahead to welcome immigrants and expand prosperity. This local movement has never been more apparent than during 2014 National Welcoming Week, which started on September 13th and includes over 160 events in 27 states designed to honor immigrant contributions and build bridges among diverse local residents.

These events are by and large organized by local nonprofit and government partners within our network, which includes 19 nonprofits and 41 local governments through the Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative. The latest locality to join the initiative is Detroit, Michigan, who announced their participation today. 

The Detroit Immigration Task Force announces the city will join Welcoming Cities and Counties.

"Whether leaders in Washington recognize it or not, the Era of Welcoming has already begun," said Welcoming America Executive Director, David Lubell. "What we are seeing across the country is a groundswell of communities recognizing that creating an environment where everyone can contribute - no matter what they look like or where they were born - is the foundation of American competitiveness and economic vitality. As the moral compass of our country, these communities and their civic leaders also recognize that being welcoming is consistent with our values as a nation."
The 3rd annual National Welcoming Week includes more partners, states, and events across the country than ever before - building upon the foundation that was built by our nonprofit partners just two years ago. Over 100 organizations - double the number from last year - will partner with Welcoming America to host more than 160 events in 27 states. From soccer tournaments in Durham, NC, Dayton, OH, and San Antonio, TX, to cooking classes in Detroit, MI, to naturalization ceremonies in Fruita, CO and Central Islip, NY, National Welcoming Week will bring together over 13,000 people nationally: everyday people that, like the majority of Americans, see immigrants as a source of strength and are embracing their new neighbors, both immigrant and U.S.-born.

Of the week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said, "I am proud that Atlanta is participating in this year’s National Welcoming Week, and working year-round to ensure all our residents are welcomed. Along with communities across the country, we are strengthened by immigrants, and I’m pleased that Atlanta is leading this charge.” Thank you to all our partners for working with us to build an exciting and vibrant National Welcoming Week! Our thanks also go out to our national partners, who have helped build momentum for this event, including: National Partnership for New AmericansThe Cisneros Center for New AmericansRefugee Council USANot in Our TownCenter for Applied LinguisticsChurch World ServiceImmigrant NationWelcome.usAS/COANALEO Educational FundInternational Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and Upwardly Global.

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National Welcoming Week kicks off on September 13th!

Welcoming America | September 11, 2014

National Welcoming Week kicks off on September 13th! Join over 13,000 people in 27 states in communities both small and large, rural and urban, to celebrate immigrants and the growing movement of leaders and communities that fully embrace immigrants and their value to the fabric of our country.

Welcoming Week reflects the true story of how communities are thriving by working together to welcome immigrants - regardless of what is happening in Washington. Find an event near you now!

Share the news of how you're celebrating National Welcoming Week Use the #welcomingweek hashtag as you share pictures and stories from the events you attend. To learn about what other communities are doing, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Donate: Even if you can't plan or join an event in your community, you can still support us by making a donation to support National Welcoming Week.

Questions? We are here to help!  Contact us at [email protected]  

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Welcoming America Honored in Bali with Worldwide Intercultural Innovation Award

Welcoming America | August 28, 2014

We are excited to announce that Welcoming America is one of eleven organizations worldwide to receive the 2014 Intercultural Innovation Award, granted by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and BMW Group!

The Intercultural Innovation Award is given to the most innovative projects around the world that are working to build intercultural cooperation and dialogue, and Welcoming America was selected from a pool of more than 600 applicants from over 100 countries. Awardees were honored at a ceremony today in Bali, Indonesia, where Executive Director David Lubell had the honor of shaking the hand of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who participated in the awards ceremony. As an awardee, Welcoming America will receive a year of support and training from UNAOC and BMW Group - crucial and timely expertise!

Welcoming America ranked fourth out of the eleven recipients overall - the highest ranking of any U.S.-based organization in the award's history - and we are only the fifth U.S.-based organization to ever receive the award.

To learn more about the award, please click here. We are honored and humbled to have received the Intercultural Innovation Award, and we are excited to work with you to parlay this momentum to take immigrant welcome to new heights!

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Welcoming America is Supporting the Growing Number of Communities that are Welcoming Unaccompanied Children

Welcoming America | July 31, 2014

Update: For resources on unaccompanied children - including ways you can help - click here.


Dear Colleagues,

We stand at a historic moment for our country.  Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America are being re-settled across the U.S., and regardless of what happens in Washington, it is local communities who must act as the moral compass of our nation.

Now, more than ever, it is important to remember what our local partners witness daily:welcoming communities are more prosperous, dynamic, and united than those that aren’t intentionally inclusive. We are deeply inspired by the growing number of leaders and everyday Americans uniting to make their communities welcoming ones for unaccompanied children. For some inspiring examples of communities stepping up, click here.

From changing the tenor of the conversation, to engaging residents with fears and misperceptions about local impact, to offering support to unaccompanied children, there is much that communities can and should do to step up and help.

In the coming weeks, Welcoming America will do our part to support our rapidly growing national network of local organizations and municipal governments, as well as any community wanting to become more welcoming during this important time.

Our goals are two-fold:

1) To lift up the voices of local leaders across the country who are taking a stand to welcome and humanely care for the children

Much of the media coverage has been primarily negative and portrays local communities as overwhelmingly against humane and welcoming treatment of the children. This depiction runs counter to public opinion polling and the experience of our local partners.

Over the coming weeks, we will spotlight the welcoming responses taking place around the country. Although details are still being finalized, actions will include:

  • Supporting and publicizing a welcoming sign-on letter for local leaders to demonstrate the depth and breadth of support for the children.
  • Changing the narrative by lifting up the numerous stories of local communities welcoming unaccompanied children and providing messaging and communications support to communities that are seeking to change the local narrative.
  • Creating space for immigrants and receiving community members to come together in service for the children during National Welcoming Week, taking place September 13-21.
  • Working with national partners like the National Partnership for New Americans to connect those ready to welcome children and to share their stories as widely as possible.  If you or your organization would like to partner in lifting up local voices of welcoming, please contact us.

2) To ensure local governments and community organizations have the tools required to marshal welcoming efforts in their communities.  Over the coming weeks, we will:

  • Launch a webinar series with our partners to provide you with facts and background on unaccompanied children and local communities, as well as messaging and actions you can take to promote welcoming the children.
  • Collect and share strategies and narratives that are working for community leaders and organizations across the country.  Please share with us what you are doing or send us your ideas so we can help others learn from them too.
  • Offering our many years of expertise in engaging receiving communities to groups and local governments wanting to promote greater dialogue and communication among local residents to ensure positive community outcomes.

There is an alternative to the divisive rhetoric we have all been hearing. In communities from Tampa to Denver to Syracuse, local leaders are expressing their support for unaccompanied children and emphasizing that the values of those they represent require children be cared for and welcomed.  These statements, some of which are captured here, are a reminder that everyday Americans can change the course of history.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas and to let us know how we can support you in your efforts to create more welcoming communities for all.

David Lubell
Executive Director
Welcoming America

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Register Your National Welcoming Week Event and Order Materials

Welcoming America | July 30, 2014

Join us for National Welcoming Week on September 13-21, 2014 to highlight the contributions of immigrants to American communities and to bring together immigrants and long-term residents in a spirit of unity! We invite you to attend or organize an event in your community that celebrates and embodies the welcoming spirit. Join the welcoming movement that is spreading across the country.

To participate, register your event or find a volunteer opportunity on the Welcoming Week websiteIf you register your event(s) by August 7th, you will receive 5 free National Welcoming Week t-shirts, a large banner, and 50 buttons. If you have questions about registering your event, please reference our guide.

Can't host or join an event? You can still help support Welcoming Week through a giftSuggested amounts - and the impact your donation would make - here!

Upcoming Webinar

For ideas and more information about hosting a Welcoming Week event, please join us for our next Welcoming Week webinar on Wednesday, August 6th at 1pm EST.  Click here to register.

In the meantime, you can click here to access a recording of our last Welcoming Week Planning and Storytelling Webinar featuring Immigrant Nation (iNation), or click here to download the slides.

Need inspiration? Take a moment to watch iNation's short film The Caretaker to experience the power of storytelling.

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Uplifting Innovations at the White House & U.S. Chamber

Welcoming America | July 16, 2014

Welcoming America and Partners Join White House and U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Uplift Immigrant Integration and Welcoming Innovations

In direct contrast to inaction on immigration reform dividing Washington, D.C., over 60 U.S. communities, large and small, all across the country are thriving by working together to embrace immigrants as part of the Welcoming America network. Welcoming America and its partners – including the prominent organizations National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), and Americas Society/Council on The Americas (AS/COA) – have come to Washington this week to highlight these non-profit and municipal welcoming initiatives, lift up the leadership of local communities in immigrant integration in general, and highlight the role the federal government can play in supporting and coordinating local integration efforts.

Today, nearly 200 immigrants, immigrant integration experts, and leaders of state and local governments from across the country are joining with officials from the Obama Administration for a White House Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration. Welcoming America, NPNA, and the White House have assembled this group to share best practices around immigrant integration and explore how the federal government can engage with communities on immigrant integration through policy.

Tomorrow, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Welcoming America, AS/COA, and PNAE will host business and community leaders for the event Open for Business: Spurring Local Economic Growth by Welcoming Immigrants to explore how businesses can play a role in immigrant inclusion and in engaging receiving communities.

“Our communities are thriving by working together to embrace immigrants, but in D.C. we see a toxic and divisive dialogue leading to inaction,” said David Lubell, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “Since last year, we have seen 38 major cities and counties join together along with 19 non-profit organizations to lead welcoming initiatives in over 80 U.S. communities. These initiatives ensure that immigrants are contributing at their fullest potential to the civic and economic fabric of communities, expanding inclusion and prosperity for all Americans. That is the reality on the ground, despite what our national leaders would have you believe.”

Stay tuned from a follow-up from these events, and we are excited to share this historic moment with you!

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