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Category: Most Popular - Highlights

2014 National Welcoming Week

Welcoming America | July 7, 2014

During the week of September 13th, 2014, Welcoming America and its partners across the country will host National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event that will bring together immigrants and U.S.-born community members in a spirit of unity through service projects and other events across the country.

Welcoming Week is just around the corner – we encourage you to start planning your event soon!  If you’d like to receive more information on National Welcoming Week – whether your interest is as an event host, event attendee, or general supporter – please sign up for our email updates here. If you plan to host an event, please complete this form.  Also, feel free to start publicizing National Welcoming Week by sharing our postcard with your network!

Can’t host or join an event?  You can help support our event now through a gift – click the button below to donate!


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In Honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, Celebrating the Diversity that Unites Us

Welcoming America | June 23, 2014

Throughout the month of June,, a new non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating a United States that is fueled by immigrants from around the world, will be celebrating the first-ever Immigrant Heritage Month. The goal of the month – which will bring together a dynamic coalition of individuals and organizations from Congressmen to celebrities – is to encourage every American to tell the story of how they first felt welcomed to the American experience.

Since 2009, Welcoming America has brought together these civic leaders and everyday welcoming heroes through a vibrant network that reaches from coast to coast. From mayors in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, who recently announced new Welcoming initiatives, to long standing efforts in states as diverse as Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Rhode Island, the Welcoming America movement reflects the diversity of American communities, rural and urban, that are already extending a welcome to their newest neighbors.

As the country celebrates the first Immigrant Heritage Month, and Welcoming America together salute the many stars who are making their communities more welcoming places for everyone. Throughout the month, celebrities and notable individuals will be sharing their own stories and the stories of influential immigrants through PSA spots available on’ YouTube channel.  And we are encouraging you to share your own welcome story by engaging with us and Immigrant Heritage Month on social media by using the hashtag #welcomeus.

Last year, the White House recognized ten Welcoming America Champions of Change – everyday heroes who are transforming their communities by pioneering practices to advance immigrant inclusion in ways that involve U.S.-born residents and the community as a whole.  Here are the profiles of these individuals who are creating welcome for immigrants across the U.S.:

  • Kasar S. Abdulla Former Director of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (a project of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition) Nashville, TN

  • Al Heggins Human Relations Director, City of High Point High Point, NC

  • Adolfo Hernandez Director of the Office of New Americans Chicago, IL

  • Dan Rearick Executive Director, Uniting NC Raleigh, NC

  • Jan A. Reeves Director, Idaho Office for Refugees Boise, ID

  • Fatima Said Executive Director, Project FINE Winona, MN

  • Christine Sauvé SE Communities Coordinator, Welcoming Michigan Detroit, MI

  • Jocelyn Skolnik Executive Director, El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center Jupiter, FL

  • Thomas Wahlrab Former Executive Director, City of Dayton Human Relations Council Dayton, OH

  • Brenda Zion Executive Director, OneMorgan County Fort Morgan, CO

We encourage you to join us during Immigrant Heritage Month to celebrate the inspirational stories of our immigrant past, present, and future.

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Updates from Welcoming America

Welcoming America | May 29, 2014

2014 Welcoming America National Conference 

Last month, Welcoming leaders from across the country convened in Atlanta for our 2014 national conference. For highlights, read our blog post, and check out our video to see why our great partners do the work they do. Thank you all who joined us for this inspiring event!

Cities Make Strides to Advancing Welcoming

Three new cities - Denver, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Central Falls, Rhode Island - have signed on to our Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative. Central Fall's addition was marked by the release of a report from Welcoming Rhode Island on immigrant contributions to the state.

Welcoming Atlanta has also taken a significant step towards welcoming with the creation of a working group, which will make recommendations to Mayor Reed on steps to take to become more inclusive towards immigrants.

Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month with Documented       

We’re pleased to collaborate with Jose Antonio Vargas and Define American around the release of the powerful new film, Documented. To view this history-making documentary, find a screening near you or host your own. To learn more about the film, click here.

Documented's debut comes just in time for the first-ever Immigrant Heritage Month in June. Hosted by, the month will celebrate immigrant contributions and share their inspirational stories. To learn more about how to join, click here.

Our Message Goes International

The Skoll World Forum - a leader in accelerating innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to the world's most critical social issues - recently highlighted our groundbreaking work in an editorial penned by Executive Director David Lubell.

Meet Our Newest Staff Member

Jared Feuer joined the Welcoming America staff this month as our Chief Operating Officer. Jared comes to us from Amnesty International USA, where he served as Deputy Director of Membership Mobilization and Southern Regional Director. Welcome, Jared!

New Resources

Check out our newest toolkit Reframing Refugees to learn how to promote positive messages about refugees highlighting their contributions.

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Refugee Stories Have Happy Endings

Welcoming America | May 19, 2014

By Amanda Cooper, Lightbox Collaborative

Americans have a lot of sympathy for the refugee experience. Just the word “refugee” conjures images in our head of crowded camps and sad eyed children. But are those images accurate? And more importantly, are they helpful?

The truth is, the refugee experience can be harrowing. Just the nature of refugee status means that you are leaving a country because you are in danger. Resettling families have a great opportunity to start a new life, but we all know that starting a new life is very difficult, particularly if you are still dealing with the effects of trauma. So, yes, refugees deserve our empathy and compassion.

But once refugee families are here and settling in, we all start to look more alike. Refugee families become our neighbors, coworkers, and friends.  In a country where almost all of us have ancestors from somewhere else, we all share some version of this experience. And as refugees transition from having just arrived and gotten their bearings into the kind of hard working, aspirational new Americans we see every day, they need less sympathy and more respect.

Because refugee families are contributing more than we realize to our communities. Newcomers are revitalizing whole cities in the rust belt, and the data shows that communities that welcome aspiring Americans benefit economically and socially. It turns out an influx of talent and know how creates opportunities for everyone.

The smart folks at Welcoming America and the Office of Refugee Resettlement know this, and they want to make sure this good news spreads. But all that good work we did helping the country see how difficult and traumatic the refugee experience is has made it hard for people to recognize just how well new Americans eventually integrate into the fabric of our society and how much they contribute.

Though the refugee experience certainly contains struggle, we are all enriched by it. We need to remember that today’s new restaurant owner, taxi driver, or teacher may have been yesterday’s refugee. In essence, the refugee experience needs better public relations!

To that end, Welcoming America asked us at LightBox Collaborative to think about how “reframe” the refugee experience. What are the messages we need to share? What are the stories that need telling? We listened, we studied the research and together we came up with this toolkit that is designed to help us “Reframe Refugees.” 

Because ultimately, the refugee resettlement story is one with a happy ending for all of us.

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Welcoming Leaders Grow and Move Forward Together at National Conference

Welcoming America | May 14, 2014

Forty leaders convened at the Welcoming America Leaders Conference in Atlanta, GA from April 28-30, 2014.  Representing non-profits and municipal governments across the country, these leaders have been working tirelessly to help their communities welcome immigrants and integrate them into civic life.  They gathered in Atlanta to reconnect with one other, learn new skills, and get reinvigorated and re-energized for the work ahead.

Conference goers had the opportunity to participate in several workshops on diverse topics including community building, using film as a Welcoming tool, tips for sustaining the movement, and more.  Highlights include a talk from Adolfo Hernandez of the Chicago Office of New Americans, a screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ film “DOCUMENTED”, and a workshop on using a racial equity lens in doing Welcoming work.  If you would like to learn more about our speakers, here are some links:

Welcoming America also used the opportunity to discuss our new strategic direction with our trusted partners.  The conference was the beginning of an ongoing conversation to work with our network in implementing our strategy of moving beyond changing individual hearts and minds toward institutionalizing Welcoming by working throughout the community and with a variety of institutions to adopt Welcoming policies and practices.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to recharge the Welcoming Movement and create energy and excitement for the future.  A big thank you to our dedicated network for your ongoing commitment and passion to make this country a truly Welcoming place for all!

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Immigrant Welcome in the Nation's Capital

Welcoming America | April 15, 2014

(Image Credit: Office of Human Rights, District of Columbia)


Welcoming America Joins City of DC to Celebrate 10 Years of Language Access and Immigrant Inclusion


A truly global city, Washington, DC and the metro region is one of the most significant immigration hubs in the country today. Metro DC has the seventh-largest immigrant concentration (21.5 percent foreign-born), and the District's foreign-born population accounts for more than a third of its population growth since 2007.

Today, Mayor Gray, the Office of Human Rights, and community partners from throughout the region will celebrate the city's efforts over the last decade to celebrate their immigrant community and ensure their inclusion and success through one of the nation's most innovative and forward-looking language access policies.

A report from the Urban Institute to be released today describes the changing demographics of the city and examines the success and challenges of language access policy in the District. Welcoming America looks forward to sharing these lessons throughout our growing network of 31 municipal governments and community partners throughout the U.S., who are at the front-edge of developing local policies and programs that advance inclusion and expand prosperity.

More on the event and the work of the DC Office of Human Rights

Read the Urban Institute report

Also see the Immigrants Contribute campaign

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LA Makes 30, Upcoming Events & More

Welcoming America | April 1, 2014

Los Angeles Becomes the 30th Welcoming City

Los Angeles is the latest city to join our Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative, joining a race to the top to attract and welcome immigrants. With over 39% of its population foreign-born, and a strong network of nonprofit partners like CHIRLA and others, Los Angeles is specially poised as a leader in immigrant welcome and has much to gain from embracing its immigrant population, as this article on the St. Louis Mosaic Project explains. The city is also in good company, as several localities have recently joined, including Clarkston, GAWashington, DCHamtramck, MI; and Iowa, City, IA.

A Warm Welcome to Our Newest Board Member, Tony Kalm

Tony Kalm - Deputy Head of CGIAR at the World Bank, member of the Board of Directors of One Acre Fund, and winner of the Schwab Foundation's Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2013 - is the newest member of Welcoming America's Board.  Welcome, Tony!

2014: The Year of the Immigrant Ally

Our friend Jose Antonio Vargas has dubbed 2014 the "Year of the Immigrant Ally" and is celebrating welcomers from across the country.  Learn more about his moving new film Documented and find out why IndieWire calls 2014 the Year of the Immigrant on Film.

Promising Practices for Welcoming Immigrants

Local communities are taking the lead in welcoming immigrants, including refugees:

  • In Dayton, OH, Dayton Public Schools established a mentoring and tutoring program for refugee students to help transition them into U.S. life.
  • In Twin Cities, MN, a garden program helps refugees - especially those who come from agriculturally-centered countries - contribute to and feel welcome in their new homes.
  • And in Grayson, GA, nonprofit organization Peace of Thread is helping to employ, train, and empower refugee women through sewing projects.

To learn about more ways communities are working to welcome immigrants, click here.

Changing Perceptions with NAAC

Join our partners at NAAC in their new campaign to address bias against Arab and Muslim-Americans, including refugees.  For more information, click here.

Missed the Cities of Migration Webinar?

Did you miss the recent Cities of Migration webinar, Big Ideas: New York City's Blueprints for Immigrant Integration Success?  If so, you can watch a recording of it here.

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City of Clarkston, Georgia Positions Community for Civic and Economic Success with Signing of Welcoming City Resolution

Welcoming America | March 6, 2014

Clarkston Becomes 29th City in Nation to Join Decatur, Georgia based Welcoming America’s Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative



On March 4th,  2014, Mayor Ted Terry and members of the Clarkston City Council passed a Welcoming Resolution, committing the city to building a welcoming and neighborly community in which diverse residents, including immigrants, are welcome, accepted and integrated.

Through the resolution, the City also joins Welcoming Cities and Counties, an initiative of Welcoming America that supports locally-driven efforts to create more welcoming, immigrant friendly environments that maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality and position communities as globally competitive, 21st century leaders.  Welcoming America is a nonprofit organization based in Decatur, Georgia that works across the U.S. to create inclusive, immigrant-friendly communities that expand prosperity for all residents.

The resolution (full version available here) recognizes that a welcoming community is critical to economic success for all residents, and identifies that Clarkston is committed to “enhancing its cultural fabric, economic growth, global competitiveness and overall prosperity for all individuals in the current and future generations who choose to make their home in the city.”

Said Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, "I'm gratified that this was a grassroots effort. The residents of our city got together and worked out the details - and our government has responded in full support of Clarkston becoming a truly Welcoming community. In light of recent events, over the criminalization of gays and lesbians, in Uganda - our city felt it was important to add language that codified ALL people are welcome in Clarkston, including gay, lesbian and transgendered folks.  It is incumbent upon our government to provide opportunity for all residents of our city. And I am looking forward to working with Welcoming America on a framework for the future welcoming policies of Clarkston.”

"This is a wonderful affirmation that the diverse character of Clarkston is indeed one of its great strengths," commented Emily Pelton of Refugee Family Services, a refugee resettlement agency that works in the Clarkston community.

A newly formed Welcoming Committee will bring together local residents and stakeholders to work with the city to support the vision of the resolution. Said member Cassie Leymarie, “I am thrilled that the Welcoming Resolution has passed in the City of Clarkston.  The resolution, of course, is a symbolic gesture, but it also provides members of the community with a framework for starting grassroots efforts that will help newcomers to Clarkston become more participatory members in the community. I am looking forward to working with the newly formed Welcoming Committee and Clarkstonians to create programs and events that are guided by the Welcoming resolution.“

Clarkston joins the City of Atlanta, where in October 2013, Mayor Kasim Reed joined the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative and issued a similar proclamation, recognizing its importance to the region’s continued position as a global, 21st century leader.  Said Welcoming America Executive Director, David Lubell, “We applaud the elected leadership and residents of Clarkston for recognizing that the city’s global diversity is a significant asset and for making this important commitment to ensuring that all Clarkston residents can truly thrive.”

For more information on the City of Clarkston, visit

For more information on Welcoming America, visit

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Kicking off five years of Welcoming America with the New York Times

Welcoming America | February 20, 2014

They say "it takes a village," but here at Welcoming America, we believe it takes a network of villages. With communities across the U.S. stepping up in exciting ways to celebrate and engage their newest residents, we believe nothing could be more powerful than a network that lifts up and connects these efforts to each other. As we celebrate five years of Welcoming America, we invite you to join us in this work and help spread the news about the extraordinary achievements happening across the country.

New York Times Showcases Momentum of Welcoming Movement

Yesterday, the New York Times featured Welcoming America and the Welcoming movement in a great article articulating the momentum of this idea and how we're transforming the country from the bottom up. We invite you to read the article and share this exciting news with your network!

Al Jazeera America Features Cities' Race to the Top

Recently, Al Jazeera America published our op-ed on cities' race to the top to attract immigrants, highlighting the friendly competition between municipalities that we are helping to fuel through our Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative. We encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Univision Recognizes David Lubell as a Top Ten Social Entrepreneur in the Americas

Executive Director David Lubell was named one of the top ten social entrepreneurs in the Americas by Univision - read all about the honor in Spanish and English. David caught Univision's attention at last year's abc* Continuity Forum - you can watch David's presentation below:

Immigrants Give Back in North Carolina

Members of Iglesia Emanuel, a small Spanish-speaking church in North Carolina, contribute to their community by cooking hot meals and distributing groceries to diverse people in need. Watch the touching video from our affiliate Uniting NC:

Messages from the Top

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed elevated welcoming immigrants at his recent mayoral inauguration:

The Buzz from the Field - Partners in the News

• NY Office for Immigrants, led by commissioner of immigrant affairs Fatima Shama, featured as a "global model" in the New York Times

• NH refugees are introduced to how Americans celebrate the holidays on NPR • Rejuvenating St. Louis one immigrant at a time through the St. Louis Mosaic Project • Refugees and Immigrants Succeeding in Entrepreneurship (RISE) is leading efforts to attract and support immigrant entrepreneurs in Louisville • Columbus, NE residents built bridges and learned about the value of diversity through a tour of businesses hosted by affiliate Nebraska is Home • Lincoln, NE celebrates the Karen New Year with Karen refugees • MI Governor Rick Snyder announces the creation of the Michigan Office for New Americans during his recent state of the state address

Upcoming Webinars

Big Ideas: New York City's Blueprints for Immigrant Integration Success Tues., 3/25 @ 10am EST Join Fatima Shama, former Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, for a conversation about why cities around the world are taking the lead on immigrant integration and how New York’s “Blueprints” for immigrant integration success can help. Joining the conversation will be Astrid Ziebarth, Director of the Immigration and Integration Program at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. Co-hosted by Welcoming America. To register and learn more, click here. Talking to America About Immigrants & Immigration Webinar Series This webinar series is designed to help leaders and practitioners in immigrant-serving organizations learn data and tools for positioning immigrants as assets, gain resources for supporting immigrants, and keep abreast of immigration reform. Hosted by the Immigrant Learning Center. Click here to learn more and to register for one or more sessions:

  • Positioning Immigrants as Assets Wed., 2/26 @ 1-3pm EST
  • Ideas for Creating Welcoming Environments / Addressing Tensions Between Immigrant and African-American Communities Tues., 3/11 @ 1-3pm EST

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Help us build a stronger, more inclusive America

Welcoming America | December 11, 2013

In 2013, all across America, it was clearer than ever that immigrants are welcome and make our communities stronger.  Just ask the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Anderson Cooper 360°,the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Communities & Banking, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who covered local and national welcoming efforts over the past year, or the White House, who honored Welcoming America and our partners in a Welcoming America Champions of Change program.

With your support, here are some examples of what we were able to achieve together in 2013:

Messages from the Top

Local leaders across the country welcome and uplift their newest residents:

"Without the energy and intellect and innovation of our immigrant community, Montgomery County would, quite simply, be incomplete. ‘New Americans’ are a critical piece in building a better future for all County residents."

- Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett

“Immigrants bring work skills, add to our neighborhoods, pay taxes, and buy goods in our region.  And, we need new residents to add to our own multicultural perspectives, so our regional enterprises can compete effectively in the widening global market. [National Welcoming Week] serves to celebrate our diversity and opportunity to grow.”

- St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay

“I thank Long Island Wins for their tremendous work on Welcoming Week, and for their work in helping immigrants in our communities feel welcomed. This is very important for us in Suffolk County, because it sends a message to all of our residents, both native- and foreign-born, that they are all important, and that we appreciate all of the contributions that they make to our community.

- Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

“Indiana’s flourishing immigrant population contributes greatly to the cultural, educational and economic fabric of our state… Our administration is committed to doing all we can to make Indiana stand out not only regionally, but nationally and internationally, as a premier destination for anyone who wants to start a business, grow a business or get a job – just as so many immigrants have done in Indiana already.”

- Indiana Governor Mike Pence

“Atlanta’s diversity and vitality has been built on the strength of immigrant populations that have come to enjoy new freedoms and opportunities. In partnership with Welcoming America, the City of Atlanta will continue to work on welcoming, including, and supporting the economic and social contributions of immigrants to enhance our city’s cultural fabric, economic growth and global competitiveness.”

- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

  • Communities jumped into a race to the top to attract immigrants by joining our Welcoming Cities & Counties initiative, which supports locally-driven efforts to create immigrant-friendly environments and maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality. To date, 25 local governments have joined, representing a combined population of over 24 million Americans.
  • Welcoming America hosted National Welcoming Week, the only nationwide event that celebrates immigrant contributions and brings together immigrants and U.S.-born community members through service projects and events. An impressive success, communities across the U.S. hosted over 150 events attracting more than 6,000 participants, from soccer games to restaurant crawls to community gardens.

  • Through our network of 18 affiliates in 17 statesover 25,000 individuals attended events designed to improve their understanding and relationship of immigrants.

  • Inspired by Welcoming America, from Suffolk County, NY to Gardner, KS, local leaders from across the political spectrum espoused the value of welcoming communities, including leaders in 19 communities who passed Welcoming resolutions – formal proclamations that publicly articulate the value of immigrant-friendly communities.

  • We empowered a new generation of local welcoming practitioners through trainings and presentations to over 4,000 individuals, including nearly 2,000 members of the nation’s refugee resettlement network.

And we couldn't do it without you.  We encourage you to make a tax-deductible gift to Welcoming America today!

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