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Category: Most Popular - Highlights

At the National Immigrant Integration Conference, a Country Moves Forward – Community by Community

Welcoming America | November 26, 2013

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we could hardly imagine a more gratitude-inspiring moment than the gathering of hundreds of individuals from across the country who are working to extend a welcome to immigrants in their communities.  It’s no easy task to pull off such a successful event bringing together leaders from the immigrant integration sector, and we tip our welcoming hats to the amazing team at the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). 

If you weren't able to join us this year in Miami, here are just a few highlights:

- The conference shined a bright spotlight on exciting innovations being led at the local level, proving that positive change is possible. Welcoming America's affiliates were present to share their models, along with innovative municipal goverments like those in the Welcoming Cites and Counties network.

The Receiving Communities Track illuminated practices and policies from across the country to create welcoming, immigrant-friendly and economically vibrant communitieswhere immigrants, refugees and native-born residents can thrive and transform their communities. Organized by Welcoming America and the JM Kaplan Fund’s Suzette Brooks Masters, a crack team of national  experts, including Hiram Ruiz, Florida State Refugee Office; Kim Turner, Cities of Migration; Nadia Tonova, ACCESS; Naomi Steinberg, Refugee Council USA; Rhonda Oriz, USC;  and Rich Stolz, One America,  helped put together an exciting lineup of speakers (see below for our shout-outs list).

- Our own Susan Downs-Karkos joined former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros in a plenary to discuss the importance of welcoming communities to our economic futureListen to the speech.

Above all, we left inspired by the incredible work being accomplished by those working in the field; by the new connections forged between our partners and their peers; and by the rich learning experience.  And did we mention salsa dancing?

This Thanksgiving, we offer our deepest thanks and special recognition to the sponsors and organizers of NIIC, and to all the speakers and participants on the Receiving Communities Track who contributed their time.

In particular, we thank:

Richard Andre, AS-COA

Sanja Bebic, Center for Applied Linguistics

Joanna Brown, Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Cynthia Brothers, Public Interest Projects

Suzette Brooks Masters, J.M. Kaplan Fund

Betsy Cohen, Mosaic Project, St. Louis

Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation

Christine Dahnke, Duval County Public Schools

Jean-Michel Dissard, Director, I LEARN AMERICA

Stephen Fotopulos, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

Mahvash Hassan, Institute for Local Government

Al Heggins, City of High Point, NC

Subhash Kateel, Families for Freedom

Marcia Hohn, ILC Public Education Institute

Hendel Leiva, Welcoming Long Island/Long Island Wins

Gerald Lenoir, BAJI

Nicole Melaku, Welcoming Colorado/CIRC

Tom Negri, City of Nashville

Rhonda Ortiz, University of Southern California

Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California

Jennifer Rodriguez, City of Philadelphia

Hiram Ruiz, Florida State Refugee Office

Fatima Said, Project FINE

Karla Silvestre, Montgomery County, MD

Matthew Soerens, World Relief

Jocelyn Skolnik, El Sol, Jupiter, Florida

Naomi Steinberg, RCUSA

Rich Stolz, OneAmerica

Maria Velasco, Intercambio Uniting Communities

Dan Wallace, New York City, NY

Ferai Williams, Network for Immigrant and African American Solidarity

Christa Yoakum, Nebraska is Home/Nebraska Appleseed

Luz Zambrano, Network for Immigrant and African American Solidarity  

We hope you’ll join us next year for the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Los Angeles.

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Atlanta Becomes 22nd Welcoming City

Welcoming America | October 29, 2013

On October 22nd, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced before a group of civic and business leaders the City of Atlanta’s commitment to join Welcoming America’s Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative, becoming the 22nd local government to join the initiative. As part of the initiative, the City of Atlanta will work to identify opportunities to engage Atlanta’s global immigrant communities and further immigrants’ role in building the local economy. The announcement was made at an immigration luncheon sponsored by Americas Society/Council of the Americas, in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of CommerceWelcoming America, and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"87","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright wp-image-5263","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"248","height":"253","alt":"photo for atlanta blog"}}]]“Atlanta’s diversity and vitality has been built on the strength of immigrant populations that have come to enjoy new freedoms and opportunities,” said Mayor Kasim Reed in a press release issued by his office. “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.” The event also featured Turner Broadcasting Chairman and CEO Phil Kent, who discussed the importance of a global workforce and an immigrant-friendly community, which provides companies with a distinct competitive advantage.  Other speakers included Tom Negri and Ronnie Steine of Nashville, who spoke about how a welcoming community in Nashville has helped fuel the city's economy and job growth. “We are excited to see Atlanta join a growing community of cities that are actively welcoming immigrants and their contributions to boost economic growth and ensure a more humane treatment and inclusion of newcomers,” said Christopher Sabatini, Senior Director of Policy at the Americas Society/Council of Americas. "We applaud Mayor Reed for his leadership in recognizing that our diverse population is our greatest asset, and for committing to work in partnership with the community to build a more inclusive and welcoming Atlanta,” said David Lubell, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “We hope and expect that other leaders in the region will follow his lead." 

Welcoming America will be working with the city and other regional partners to develop a plan to move forward together in Atlanta. Read more about the event in the press release released by the Mayor's office, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and Global Atlanta. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"88","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignleft wp-image-4392","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"207","height":"108","alt":"welcom_cities_final-1024x528"}}]]To learn more about the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative, and for a current list of participating local governments, visit  Cities participating in the initiative will have the chance to access new tools and resources; receive support and recognition for their efforts to foster more vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming communities; and participate in learning exchanges that highlight promising practices from globally competitive cities.

Welcome Dayton Receives National Attention

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"89","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright wp-image-5259","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"188","height":"115","alt":"timriordan"}}]]The City of Dayton was recently featured in the New York Times in an article highlighting that city's proactive "immigrant-friendly" agenda. “We want to invest in the places where we are accepted better,” said one immigrant leader who has been part of local economic revitalization efforts. “And we are accepted better in Dayton." Dayton, Ohio City Manager Tim Riordan also recently made an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. “The influx of immigrants into Dayton has been a good thing,” said Riordan in the segment hosted by Aasif Mandvi.

US Chamber of Commerce Report Highlights Immigrant-Friendly Dayton

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"90","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignleft wp-image-5260","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"100","height":"130","alt":"BI_CF_ebook_cover"}}]]The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently highlighted Dayton and its immigrant welcome effort as a model for building prosperity in their Enterprising Cities report. Says the report, "Faced with a new source of population, Dayton’s community and business leaders have moved to improve the overall environment of support for new Americans, and help immigrants with a dream of entrepreneurship unleash their potential—creating jobs and revitalizing communities in need of a new economic spark."

Be a Part of History at the NIIC!

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"91","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-5227 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"240","height":"110","alt":"NIIC_logo_v2"}}]]Join Welcoming America at the National Immigrant Integration Conference, November 17-19th in Miami and help define the future direction of immigrant inclusion and integration in America. Click here to see the full program, including the Receiving Communities Track sessions. The conference was organized by the Kaplan Foundation, Welcoming America, and numerous partners. Go Back

From Main Street to White House, America Said: Immigrants Make Us Stronger

Welcoming America | October 9, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"83","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright wp-image-5224","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"710","height":"112","alt":"nww montage"}}]]   This past National Welcoming Week – from small towns in Colorado and Idaho to large cities such as Birmingham, AL and Austin, TX – the message was loud and clear: immigrants make our communities stronger. Thank you for being a part of celebrating immigrants during National Welcoming Week! Together, we organized about 150 events attracting over 6,000 participants, drawing recognition from the White House. Multiple local community leaders also highlighted immigrant contributions, and cities jumped into the race to attract immigrants. From mayors to museums, business owners to neighbors, diverse participants across the country participated in inspiring programs:
  • Immigrants and U.S.-born residents gave back to their communities through service projects, such as in Cleveland, OH and Tampa Bay, FL.
  • Diverse athletes built connections and found common ground through multicultural soccer games in Durham, NC and Northampton, MA.
  • Positive messages about immigrants were shared through an ad campaign featuring “hello” written in 17 languages in St. Louis, MO and a Twitter campaign sharing messages of welcoming in Norwich, CT.
  • Immigrants shared their stories during events in Atlanta, GA and Patchogue, NY; through arts & crafts in Lincoln, NE; and through film screenings in Nashua, NHLewiston, ME, and Boston, MA.
These efforts drew widespread media attention, with coverage from national media – including the Boston GlobeDetroit NewsNews & ObserverCleveland Plain DealerProvidence Journal, and The Tennessean – as well as internationally, such as on a Bosnian-language broadcast and in Guatemala. The week also drew external support through sponsorships from BB&T and One Region Atlanta, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater AtlantaWe thank BB&T and One Region Atlanta for their generous support!

Welcoming Week Highlights

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"84","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright wp-image-5230","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"288","height":"129","alt":"welcoming_american_champions_of_change5dca045d175f"}}]]White House Recognizes Welcoming America Champions of Change

The White House honored ten Welcoming America Champions of Change - read more about this honor on our blog. Learn more about the Champions here, read about the Champions’ work on the White House blog, and stay tuned for a video with highlights from the event.

Local Leaders Say to Immigrants: You’re Welcome

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"85","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignleft wp-image-5234","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"262","height":"155","alt":"steve_bellone80def3"}}]]Local leaders affirmed their commitment to welcoming immigrants through proclamations signed by High Point, NC Mayor Bernita SimsIndianapolis, IN Mayor Gregory Ballard, the Kansas City Council, Memphis, TN Mayor A.C. Wharton and the Memphis City CouncilRI Governor Lincoln Chafee, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Elected officials in Cedar Valley, IA also made the pledge to be welcoming. Some of these leaders had a few inspiring words about their newest residents: “Indiana’s flourishing immigrant population contributes greatly to the cultural, educational and economic fabric of our state. Immigrants enrich our state with a variety of traditions. They create economic growth and deepen our cultural understanding statewide. 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 “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, MO Mayor Francis Slay “[Welcoming Week…and helping immigrants in our communities feel welcomed] is very important for us in Suffolk County, because it sends a message to all 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 [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"86","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright wp-image-5236","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"302","height":"126","alt":"WA04.billboards.074"}}]]Communities Highlight Immigrants and Work to Attract Them Immigrants not only benefit our communities culturally; they also do so economically. This was clear to residents of Nashville, TN and Schuyler, NE as they learned more about local immigrant-owned businesses during food crawls and business tours. It’s no wonder that cities and states are jumping into the race to the top for welcoming and are working to attract immigrants, including the state of MIWilder, IA; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PASt. Louis, MO; and Cleveland, OH. Cities with longer histories of immigration, like Philadelphia, PA and New York, NY, also hosted events to ensure their immigrant residents felt welcomed during National Welcoming Week.

Join Us Next Year!

We’re already gearing up for the next National Welcoming Week, which will take place September 13-21, 2014.  If you would like to participate or are interested in learning more, please let us know!

Keep on Welcoming - Upcoming Events

The National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) November 17-19 Miami, FL 33132 Be a part of shaping the future of immigrant integration! Welcoming America is proud to again be partnering with the NIIC 2013 to offer the Receiving Communities track. Join us by registering today. Visit the conference website to learn more, and contact NIIC with any registration questions. NIIC is hosted by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Knight Foundation, and The National Partnership for New Americans. Doing Business in Metro Atlanta: The Role of Immigrants Now and in the Future October 22 @ 12:30pm-2pm Atlanta, GA Join us for a luncheon and discussion on how Atlanta can harness and invest in its immigrant community. Speakers include Kasim Reed, Mayor of the City of Atlanta, and Philip I. Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Turner Broadcasting. To register and learn more, click here. For registration questions, please contact [email protected]Presented in partnership with the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA), the Office of Mayor Kasim Reed, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the One Region initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. New American Leaders Conference - for Elected Officials November 15-16 Washington, DC On the 15th, come out to the first New American Leaders Award Reception honoring immigrant elected officials. On the 16th, if you're an elected official of immigrant background, join us for a conference featuring sessions and panels on strategy, messaging, and legislation. Click here for more information and to register for one or both events. For questions, please contact Kara Hernandez. Presented in partnership with the New American Leaders Project, the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies, the Public Leadership Institute, NALEO Educational Fund, and the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. Go Back

White House Recognizes Welcoming America Champions of Change

Welcoming America | September 18, 2013

Immigrants Want to Contribute; White House Recognizes Leaders Who are Helping their Communities Seize that Potential During National Welcoming Week

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"72","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-5181 alignleft","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"364","height":"94","alt":"champions of change logo"}}]]As the debate in Washington on immigration moves forward, local community leaders across the country are recognizing that immigrants make us stronger and are working in their communities to create welcoming climates that harness the economic and social potential that newcomers bring. This Thursday, September 19th, the White House will recognize ten individuals and their innovative efforts to lift up newcomer contributions and involve the whole community in supporting successful immigrant integration.  Ten Welcoming America Champions of Change will be honored in an event that will be streamed live starting at 1pm EST at The Welcoming America Champions of Change include local leaders from across the country whose cutting edge initiatives – from Nashville to Detroit – demonstrate the growing interest among local communities to ensure that everyone – including immigrants – have the opportunity to contribute and succeed.  As the country is reshaped by demographic change, these leaders offer a fresh vision for how communities can make the most of their diversity. Visit for a list of the Champions and their bios. Says Welcoming America Executive Director David Lubell, “At a crucial moment in our history, the Welcoming America Champions of Change serve as a model for what we can achieve when we recognize the tremendous contributions that immigrants make to the social and economic fabric of American communities.  These champions are innovators who are building stronger communities by helping newcomers succeed, and inviting longer-term residents to contribute to and share in that success.“ Welcoming America Champions of Change are being recognized for their pioneering practices to advance immigrant inclusion in ways that involve U.S.-born residents and the community as a whole. The Champions are being honored by the White House during National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event taking place September 15th-22nd with more than 100 events across the country that underscore the contributions of immigrants to local cultural and economic life.   From a proclamation signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recognizing that immigrants are key to prosperity and innovation in the state to volunteer activities in Alabama that bring together foreign and U.S.-born North Carolinians to give back to the communities, to a gathering of hundreds in Nashville to nosh at diverse local restaurants, groups across the country are celebrating how immigrants enrich their communities.  Hosted by Welcoming America and its partners, more information is available at

Meet the Champions of Change

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"73","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5158","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"126","height":"187","alt":"Edited 2 - Kasar S. Abdullah"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"74","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5167","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"126","height":"191","alt":"Edited 3 - Al Heggins"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"75","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5168","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"130","height":"193","alt":"Edited 3 - Adolfo Hernandez"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"76","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5169","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"129","height":"193","alt":"Edited 2 - Dan Rearick"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"77","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5170","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"128","height":"192","alt":"Edited - Jan A. Reeves"}}]] [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"78","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5174","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"127","height":"191","alt":"Edited - Fatima Said"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"79","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5175","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"127","height":"190","alt":"Edited - Christine Suave"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"80","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5176","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"126","height":"190","alt":"Edited - Jocelyn Skolnik"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"81","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5177","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"127","height":"190","alt":"Edited - Thomas Wahlrab"}}]]    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"82","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-5178","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"126","height":"190","alt":"Edited - Brenda Zion"}}]] Go Back

Next Week, Thousands Will Say: Immigrants Make Us Stronger

Welcoming America | September 13, 2013

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A new and growing chorus of voices - from mayors to business owners to everyday residents - across the country recognize the contributions that immigrants bring, and are developing comprehensive efforts to welcome them.  From September 15th to the 22nd, this chorus will grow as immigrants and U.S.-born individuals come together across the country to create stronger communities during National Welcoming Week. Close to 80 events are planned in 22 states, and more than 5,600 people are expected to participate. Some highlights include: •  From Alabama and Florida to Colorado and California, immigrants and U.S.-born residents will come together in a spirit of unity to participate in volunteer service projects that benefit their local communities, including projects focused on collecting and packaging food and supplies, building community gardens, and cleaning up public spaces. •  Local government officials will be affirming their commitment to welcoming immigrants; already, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued a proclamation in honor of 2013 Welcoming Week and seven Michigan communities have passed similar resolutions. In Iowa, mayors Buck Clark and Jon Crews and Rep. Anesa Kajtazovich have joined with local residents and business leaders to sign similar welcoming pledges. •  Diverse Nebraskans in Schuyler will have the chance learn how Latino- and Anglo-owned businesses they would not normally frequent add value to the community through a “business to business” tour. •  Welcoming Indianapolis is bringing the community together through approximately 20 events all across the city, and during Welcoming Week’s kickoff, Mayor Gregory Ballard will share his vision on how to make Indianapolis more inclusive to immigrants. •  In Indiana and Missouri, immigrants eager to contribute to their new hometowns will become U.S. citizens during naturalization ceremonies, while immigrants in Massachusetts and Tennessee will learn how to apply for U.S. citizenship through clinics. •  During National Welcoming Week’s debut in Georgia, Welcoming America’s home base, events are planned with a range of community partners, from the Atlanta History Center and StoryCorps to the GLOBE Academy and Horizon Theatre Company. The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta's “Celebrating One Region” event will feature a workshop describing how creating a positive community climate for immigrants can strengthen communities.

Exciting News From the White House

Next week in Washington, D.C., the White House will honor ten community leaders across the country who are working to foster more inclusive communities as part of a Welcoming America Champions of Change. Champions of Change is a White House program honoring ordinary Americans who are doing extraordinary things in their communities. Please stay tuned for more news to follow on this historic event taking place in concert with National Welcoming Week and recognizing the work of Welcoming America and its partners.

Tell Us What's Happening At Your Event

We want to hear from you as you participate in your local Welcoming Week event! Tweet us at @WelcomingUSA or tag us in your Facebook post @WelcomingAmerica to let us know what’s going on (don’t forget to add hashtag #welcomingweek in your post).

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Thank you to our generous sponsors of National Welcoming Week for helping to make our event possible: [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"66","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-4936","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"134","height":"134","alt":"BBTshaft+tag194"}}]]          [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"67","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignnone size-full wp-image-4946","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"361","height":"121","alt":"one region logo with text"}}]] Go Back

Join Us for National Welcoming Week

Welcoming America | July 31, 2013

Connecting Neighbors, Serving Communities September 15-22, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"64","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-4181 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"166","height":"166","alt":"National_welcoming_week - JPG"}}]]During the week of September 15-22, 2013, Welcoming America and its partners across the country will host National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event that will highlight the contributions of immigrants to American communities.  Throughout the country, these events will bring together immigrants and U.S.-born community members in a spirit of unity through services projects focusing on:
  • Community Beautification, such as painting a community mural or organizing a park or school clean-up.
  • Healthy Communities, such as organizing a food drive or community garden project.
  • Connected Communities, such as organizing a citizenship drive or serving food at a naturalization ceremony.

Get Involved with National Welcoming Week

Join an Event: Currently, events are being planned in communities across the country - to find the one closest to you, visit our Welcoming Week page (please check back August 19th for a comprehensive map of events).  Also, don't forget to check to see if your employer will offer Welcoming America a grant for your volunteer hours with us - it's an easy way to double your impact. Plan an Event: Don't see an event in your community?  Even if your group or organization is not a Welcoming America affiliate, we welcome you to host an approved National Welcoming Week event.  To get your event approved, please complete and submit our application.  If you need guidance on planning your event, check out ourtoolkit. Donate: Even if you can't plan or join an event in your community, you can still support us by donating online or becoming a National Welcoming Week sponsor.  Your support will help make our National Welcoming Week events possible!  If you give, remember to see if your employer will match your donation. Spread the Word: We invite you to spread the word about National Welcoming Week to your network using our brochure.  Your friends and family can also learn more about National Welcoming Week here. Go Back

Announcing the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative

Welcoming America | June 26, 2013

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Recognizing that immigrants help maximize opportunities for economic growth and civic vitality and position communities as globally competitive, 21st century leaders, 17 local governments have joined the Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative with Welcoming America.

St. Louis Mayor and County Executive Sign On Tied into the St. Louis Immigration & Innovation Initiative's Economic Conference today in which new actions to become more welcoming to immigrants were announced, the St. Louis region became the 12th to join Welcoming Cities and Counties. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley signed on today making the region the first to have both its city Mayor and county Executive sign together.Lincoln, Nebraska Declares Welcoming City Day Mayor Chris Beutler, along with advocates and members of the city’s New Americans Task Force, which helps new immigrants acclimate to America and Lincoln, signed a proclamation designating Friday, June 21 as Welcoming City Day. How can my city or county join?To learn more about how your municipal government can participate, contact Susan Downs-Karkos at [email protected].You can also visit to learn more and to download a commitment form.

Welcoming Cities & Counties Recognized as a 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America Commitment to Action

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"62","attributes":{"alt":"CGIA_CommitmentSeal_2013_Lg","height":"62","width":"219","class":"media-image alignnone wp-image-4382 media-element file-media-large"}}]] CGI America (CGIA) convenes leaders to turn ideas into action. CGI America Commitments to Action represent bold new ways that CGI commitment makers address challenges in the United States—implemented through new methods of partnership and designed to maximize impact. Commitments can be small or large, global or local. No matter the size or scope, commitments help CGI America commitment makers translate practical goals into meaningful and measurable results.

The initiative signals the growing importance of an innovative and proactive role for local governments, and the growing recognition of immigrants as assets in any community. Participating cities and counties include:

  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (incl. Pittsburgh)
  • Austin, Texas
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • High Point, North Carolina
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Macomb County, Michigan
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • New York, New York
  • Oakley, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • San Francisco, California
  • St. Louis, Missouri (city)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (county)

Welcoming Cities and Counties recognize the benefit of supporting immigrant-friendly, welcoming environments in which all community members can fully contribute and participate.

Welcoming America is convening members of Welcoming Cities and Counties to share promising practices with each other and help the nation learn from their local level innovations that support economic development and create vibrant global communities that are great places to live, work and do business. In addition this initiative is supported by a growing list of partner organizations, which include: City of Chicago, City of New YorkThe German Marshall Fund of the United States, AS/COA, and Maytree’s Cities of Migration. Welcoming Cities and Counties has also been recognized as a 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

If you, your organization, or your city or county is interested in learning more or participating, please contact Susan Downs-Karkos, Director of Strategic Partnerships, at [email protected]. To learn more about the initiative, visit Read more research about the imperatives for this work in Communities and Banking magazine and the Welcoming Cities report.

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Promoting Economic Prosperity by Welcoming Immigrants

Welcoming America | June 4, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"60","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright size-full wp-image-4220","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"75","height":"104","title":"communities and banking","alt":""}}]]Welcoming America Deputy Director Rachel Steinhardt's article, "Promoting Economic Prosperity by Welcoming Immigrants," is in the latest issue of Communities & Banking, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Read on below for the article, and you can also find a PDF copy here.


**The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston or the Federal Reserve System. Information about organizations and upcoming events is strictly informational and not an endorsement.**

Civic leaders are catching on to what savvy businesses already know: diversity and immigration are opportunities that can improve prosperity for all.

When it comes to running a business, maintaining competitive advantage involves adapting quickly to an increasingly diverse employee and consumer base. In the global economy, attracting the right talent and reaching today’s demographically changing consumer market is imperative. With the Hispanic and Asian markets in the United States expected to reach a combined $2.5 trillion in buying power by 2015, strategies that welcome newcomers as employees and customers are a recipe for growth for Fortune 500 businesses and smaller firms alike.1 A growing number of cities today are working to create a more immigrant-friendly culture.2 From Boston to East Providence, from Dayton to Salt Lake City, more civic leaders are promoting their communities as welcoming places that can attract and retain a global workforce and maximize the local economic development and growth opportunities that newcomers bring. The Business Case A growing body of research demonstrates how immigrant-friendly cities can create positive opportunities for all. Immigrants from across the skills spectrum contribute economically and are often highly sought after to fill critical gaps in the labor market.3 Immigrants are also more likely to start a business than nonimmigrants. Consider a Fiscal Policy Institute report indicating that small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007 and were generating more than $776 billion annually.4 Some studies have correlated increased immigration with increased earnings of American workers. Other research has documented immigrants’ significant purchasing power, which translates into more demand for local consumer goods.5 Moreover, by helping to balance the ratio of workers to retirees, immigrants give cities and the nation as a whole a structural advantage over many trading partners. And immigrants’ home purchases have helped boost housing prices.6 Although it is more difficult to quantify, immigrants also contribute to localities through a “diversity advantage”—the potential for greater innovation, creativity, and even cultural renaissance that results when communities and businesses manage diversity well.7 Researcher Richard Florida has written about the diversity advantage, concluding that “nations that are more accepting of and better at integrating new immigrants have a higher level of economic growth and development.”8 In 2007, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office calculated that the fiscal impact of immigrants as a whole is positive, with the tax revenues they generate exceeding the cost of the services they use. Research also has shown that over the last two decades, the metropolitan areas with the fastest economic growth were also the places with the greatest increase in immigrant share of the labor force.9 Similarly, a study by Global Detroit found that immigrants in southeast Michigan “provide enormous contributions to the region’s economic growth.”10 A Movement Grows More cities are seeing immigrants as offering a competitive edge.11 Take Dayton, Ohio, which made headlines last year with the release of its Welcome Dayton plan. Dayton city manager Tim Riordan’s comments reflect why other cities should take note: “Immigrants are more than twice as likely as other citizens to become entrepreneurs and create jobs. We want to make every effort we can to not only attract more of these creative and industrious people, but also to encourage them to stay in our community and plant deep roots.”12 Welcome Dayton includes strategies aimed at fostering a welcoming climate and increasing immigrants’ access to the kinds of services (banking, English classes, and the like) that can help them contribute at their full potential. Meanwhile in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans in 2012 to make Chicago the “most immigrant-friendly city in the world.” “Throughout its history,” says Adolfo Hernandez, director of Chicago’s Office of New Americans, “Chicago has benefited from the immeasurable economic contributions of its immigrant populations, and from the rich fabric of distinct and vibrant neighborhoods they helped to create. … As we build a thriving 21st century economy, we must work together to attract and retain immigrants by helping them to succeed and grow in a safe and welcoming city.” In the Great Lakes region, initiatives such as Global Michigan/Global Detroit are working to revitalize the regional economy by making the area more welcoming to immigrants, international residents, foreign trade, and foreign investment. The effort includes programs to retain international students, microenterprise training and lending, a network of immigration and social services, attracting foreign investment (for example, through a cultural ambassadors program and ramping up investor visas) and the Welcoming Michigan initiative, which promotes understanding between native and foreign-born residents. Says Welcoming Michigan Director Steve Tobocman, “If Michigan is to compete, we have to welcome the investment, the jobs, the workers, and the ingenuity of immigrants and refugees. Welcoming Michigan is the foundation of a global economic growth strategy to return prosperity to our state.”13 Cities such as Houston and Boston have similar initiatives. More recently, Baltimore declared itself a welcoming city and committed to investing in support for immigrants, while ensuring that long-time residents garnered benefits from new vitality and talent.14 Said Mayor Rawlings-Blake, “It’s about all of us growing and getting better and being successful together.”15 Since 2009, the nonprofit Welcoming America has been working with a nationwide network of member organizations and partners to promote a welcoming atmosphere—community by community—in which immigrants and native-born residents can find common ground and shared prosperity. Welcoming initiatives have been launched in 22 states. Welcoming America has worked with government leaders in 11 states to pass or issue Welcoming proclamations—formal statements that articulate openness to immigrants and the need to create a positive climate that benefits the whole community.16 The proclamations are important steps toward creating more actionable and comprehensive welcoming plans. In New England, where demographics have changed significantly over the past decade and immigrants account for the majority of population growth, Welcoming initiatives in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maine are creating a climate that is not only about attracting immigrants, but about helping them to stay and thrive.17 As Boston’s Mayor Menino has said, “It is not enough to just welcome immigrants. …We must make a collective effort to ensure that immigrants feel welcomed.”18 In 2012, governors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island both signed Welcoming proclamations, and resolutions have passed in Boston, East Providence, and other communities in the region. More than ever, efforts like these are a recognition that our communities are most likely to be economically successful when all members are welcomed and supported to offer their potential. Rachel Steinhardt, the deputy director of Welcoming America, is based in Decatur, Georgia. Contact her at [email protected] See also Endnotes
  1. See State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative, 2012,; and The State of the AsianAmerican Consumer, 2012,
  2. “Immigrant” refers here to all foreign-born residents of the United States.
  3. The Brookings Institution identifies eight industries where immigrants fill critical gaps. See
  4. David Dyssegaard Kallick, “Immigrant Small Business Owners: A Significant and Growing Part of the Economy” (report, Fiscal Policy Institute, New York City, June 2012); and U.S. Small Business Administration, “Frequently Asked Questions,”
  5. Giovanni Peri, “The Impact of Immigration on Native Poverty through Labor Market Competition” (National Bureau of Economic Research working paper no. 17570, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2011); Örn B. Bodvarsson, Hendrik Van den Berg, and Joshua Lewer, “Measuring Immigration’s Effects on Labor Demand: A Reexamination of the Mariel Boatlift,” Labour Economics 13 (2008): 201–245; Francesca Mazzolari and David Neumark, “Immigration and Product Diversity,” Journal of Population Economics 25, no. 3 (2012): 1107–1137; “Assessing the Economic Impact of Immigration at the State and Local Level” (report, Immigration Policy Center, Washington, DC, April 13, 2010),; and “Strength in Diversity: The Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians” (report, Immigration Policy Center, Washington, DC, June 19, 2012),
  6. Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri, “Rethinking the Gains from Immigration: Theory and Evidence from the US” (Centre for Economic Policy Research discussion paper no. 5226, 2005); Albert Saiz, “Immigration and Housing Rents in American Cities,” Journal of Urban Economics 61, no. 2 (2007): 345–371; and Dowell Myers, “Immigrants’ Contributions in an Aging America,” Communities & Banking 19, no. 3 (summer 2008),
  7. Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor, “Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations” (Williams College Department of Economics Working Papers, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2011); Phil Wood and Charles Landry, The Intercultural City: Planning for Diversity Advantage(London: Earthscan, 2007); and G. Pascal Zachary, The Diversity Advantage: Multicultural Identity in the New World Economy (New York: Basic Books, 2003).
  8. Richard Florida, “Immigrants and the Wealth of Nations,”
  9. See
  10. See “Overview of Global Detroit Initiative,”
  11. Dylan Scott, “Immigrant-Friendly Cities Want What Arizona Doesn’t,” Governing Magazine, September 2012,
  12. Jill Drury and Tom Biedenharn, “Welcome Dayton Immigrant Plan Approved,” WDTN-TV, October 5, 2011,
  13. See
  14. See
  15. “In Growing Baltimore, Are Immigrants the Key?”
  16. See
  17. See;;; and
  18. See; and
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Stronger Together

Welcoming America | May 28, 2013

Stronger Together: An Economic Messaging Toolkit from Welcoming America

Learn about how to make the case for shared prosperity through welcoming immigrants in this new communications toolkit from Welcoming America. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"59","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-4209 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"200","height":"260","alt":"Cover Image"}}]]In this new toolkit, you'll find: - New messages to help you communicate in ways that resonate with businesses, governments, and other community members - Tools to identify key audiences and frame an appropriate message for them - Ideas and pitfalls to avoid when using economic arguments Although the messages recommended in this toolkit are pragmatic in nature and focused on the economic benefits a community receives by welcoming immigrants, each of them is still rooted in the core values of the welcoming movement—the belief that we are all better off when everyone who lives in a community feels like a part of it. Download Stronger Together here Go Back

Join Us for National Welcoming Week 2013!

Welcoming America | May 22, 2013

Connecting Neighbors, Serving Communities September 15-22, 2013

  [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"58","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-thumbnail wp-image-3726 alignleft","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"150","height":"150","title":"LOGO - National_welcoming_week- jpeg","alt":""}}]] National Welcoming Week is back for another year! Join Welcoming America affiliates and partners across the country for National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event that will promote meaningful connections and a spirit of unity between U.S. and foreign-born Americans Click here to learn more about the event and activities happening across the country! Go Back