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Category: Most Popular - Highlights

New Ways to Donate to Welcoming America

Welcoming America | May 10, 2013

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"57","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-medium wp-image-4102 alignleft","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"230","title":"Grant and Volunteer Match Program Screenshot","alt":""}}]]Welcoming America is pleased to announce that we have expanded our fundraising efforts to include a mobile giving and employer gift/volunteer match program! Mobile Giving Through our mobile giving program, donors can now text WELCOME to 85944 to make a $10 donation, which will then be added to their next cell phone bill.  If donors would like to give a more generous gift, they can text WELCOME and the amount they’d like to donate (for example: “WELCOME 100” for a $100 donation) to 41444 to receive a link to a donation fulfillment page. Gift/Volunteer Match Program Many companies offer a Matching Gift program where they match employees’ donations to Welcoming America, and most will even match donations made at any point during the previous 12 months!  Additionally, many employers also offer a Volunteer Grant program where they donate to our organization based on their employees’ volunteer hours with us.   To participate in these programs using only a few minutes of your time, please click here. We encourage you to spread the word on these new initiatives, and we are excited to work with you to help Welcoming America grow! Go Back

Welcoming Schools

Welcoming America | March 27, 2013

By reaching out to students, educators and parents in school-based settings, Welcoming America is working to change the welcome immigrants receive in classrooms and communities, and even to address and prevent issues of violence and bullying.  Over the last twenty years, immigration has reshaped American schools in profound ways.  Today, one out of every five children in the US is living in an immigrant family, and by 2015, children in immigrant families could constitute as much as 30% of the nation’s school population (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007). Schools are among the most important and most common places where U.S. and foreign-born families interact, and they often serve as the primary point of reception for immigrant families who are new to a community.   Numerous researchers and practitioners have identified the critical importance of a welcoming environment to ensuring student success.  In rapidly diversifying schools where culture, language, and other factors become added barriers, this need is even greater.   Within the immigrant integration process, schools play a crucial role in determining long-term family success, with that success shaped largely by the welcome that newcomer students and their families receive from administrators, staff, faculty, parents and other students.  Engaging these receiving community members must be a key component of fostering a more welcoming and inclusive school environment that supports learning and integration. And for students themselves, the importance of building skills to communicate and interact across language and culture are more important than ever for youth to engage meaningfully within their diverse communities, and to become leaders in a globalizing world. By reaching out to students, educators and parents in school-based settings, Welcoming America is working to change the welcome immigrants receive in classrooms and communities, and even to address and prevent issues of violence and bullying.   Some of the ways that Welcoming America is supporting work in schools includes: Providing welcoming workshops to foster understanding and address bullying Recently, our affiliate Welcoming Rhode Island worked with students at a local junior high school after someone from the school expressed a need for a “welcoming” workshop because there seemed to be a problem with ethnic bullying.  Five interns from Providence College provided support, and worked with students through a workshop that helped students understand each other and the experience of immigration.  Interns participating reflected on the experience: "The kids really did love to talk…and we got very close to them in the 2 1/2 hours we were there. By the end, the students had agreed to try to stand up for fellow classmates who were being bullied because of their outfits, hairstyles, or not so "perfect" English. We handed them a welcoming pledge and all of the students signed it. I felt as though in some way we made a difference by being there. We didn't solve the problem by any means; however we got a conversation going about this derogatory slur.” One girl who at the beginning of the dialogue said she couldn't do anything to stop it,’ had changed her mind by the end. Maybe she has a little bit of hope now…and that's what is important." Read more and see photos from the event Hosting dialogues that build bridges between native and foreign-born students For example, affiliate Welcoming Louisiana recently facilitated their first dialogue with students at a high school that is experiencing ongoing tension between immigrant and US-born students.  The dialogue used three simple questions and was held over the students' lunch period.  Many interesting questions and ideas came up, including the fact that many African American students said that they did not know any immigrants.  The event helped to build bridges, and Welcoming Louisiana hopes to do many more youth dialogues at the school. To learn more, download Welcoming America’s dialogue toolkit, developed with the Public Conversations Project. Engaging administrators, PTAs and parents to create more welcoming climates Welcoming affiliate You, Me, We Oakley! was created through a collaboration of the City of Oakley, California, Oakley schools, businesses, congregations, and community-based organizations.  In addition to schools playing a leadership role in the program, the initiative hosts targeted events in partnership with local schools.  Recently, the program worked in partnership with a local middle school to host a Dining & Dialogue dinner for members of the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) and an advisory committee that addresses the needs of English language learners and their families.  The dinner brought together parents and active community members for a meal and discussion about the changing community.  Parents spoke about their common values and their goals for helping their children succeed in school, as well as different strategies for increasing communication with and engagement of parents by the school. Learn more about the event Providing tools and training for educators Educators can play an important role in creating a more welcoming classroom and school environment, and Welcoming America and its affiliates are available to offer tools and resources to support this work. A number of educational resources and activities are available on our interactive web platform, Friends of Welcoming.  Visit, and navigate to the Educational and In Your School sections to find individual learning and group community-building activities appropriate for a variety of ages. In addition, Welcoming America and its network are available as resources to support educators.  For example, Welcoming Louisiana recently led a teacher professional development day at a local high school that trained teachers on interacting with diverse student populations. Welcoming America also recently spoke to English language instructors at the annual TESOL convention about how to engage receiving community members and create a more welcoming climate.         Go Back

Welcoming America Awarded Federal Grant to Support Refugee Resettlement Community Engagement

Welcoming America | November 12, 2012

Welcoming America is the recipient of a federal technical assistance competitive grant award from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Through the grant, Welcoming America will administer the Fostering Community Engagement and Welcoming Communities project, according to a Cooperative Agreement that will be established between ORR and Welcoming America. To  learn more about the project, visit our Refugee Resettlement page. The project, which will be further defined in consultation with ORR, will provide technical assistance to the refugee resettlement network, offering new tools and support to enhance and sustain resettlement work in local communities; build new partnerships; address challenging climates; and ensure the successful integration of the refugees in communities across the United States. Welcoming America is honored to be a recipient of  the award from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and to be recognized as a lead technical assistance provider in the area of community engagement and outreach to receiving communities. Welcoming America will provide technical assistance on core aspects of receiving community engagement (leadership, contact, and communications) through the use of technology, peer mentoring, and tool development and dissemination. Through a partnership with the Idaho Office for Refugees, Welcoming America will also help communities to foster more positive climates by engaging municipal government leaders, businesses, and other community partners, as well as refugees themselves, in creating strategic action plans to increase community capacity. The result will be a robust community of practice established across refugee agencies, mainstream providers and geographic communities, and a more sustainable refugee resettlement program to support the long-term success of refugee families. Learn more by visiting the Refugee Resettlement technical assistance page at Go Back

First-Ever National Welcoming Week Shows the Power of Unity

Welcoming America | October 18, 2012

We share the belief that our communities are strongest when everyone who lives in them feels welcome.
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Our communities work best when we all do our part -  and it takes all of us working together to make that happen.Last month, our affiliates, partners, and supporters across the country united during National Welcoming Week – and showed the power of what we can achieve together.Across the country, thousands of immigrant and U.S. born individuals came together in a spirit of unity to learn from each other and to create stronger communities.
Thank you for joining with us to build stronger, more welcoming communities.  The Welcoming movement's momentum continues to grow, with affiliates now in 20 states and partners across the country.  Here’s what we achieved in just one week, thanks to your support: -       From fields to food pantries, from arts venues to the dining table, more than 50 events across the country brought together more than 3,000 newcomer and long-time residents  to foster dialogue and positive relationships, and to give back to the community. More than 3,000 additional people were reached through broader community events.
-       In MichiganMassachusetts, and Rhode IslandGovernors Snyder (R), Patrick (D), and Chafee (I) each signed a proclamation recognizing the week in their states. -      In Suffolk County, Long Island, County Executive Steve Bellone also signed a proclamation, noting that Suffolk County is a "community that embraces immigrants." The County has been home to a contentious debate about immigration, and many see this  move - along with ongoing efforts by Welcoming Long Island - as signaling a major reset for Suffolk County.
-       From the Salt Lake Tribune to the Lansing State Journal, from the East Contra Costa Times to the Boston Globe, local news media covered positive stories of immigrants and welcoming events from coast to coast.
-   From parents at local schools in Northern California, to law enforcement officials on Long Island and Colorado,  community members came together in safe spaces to build trust and create a positive community climate where everyone feels welcome. It's no surprise that so many people are joining the movement to create welcoming communities.  Why? Because it works. Recent polling in Michigan offers evidence of this impact: thanks to the efforts of our affiliate,Welcoming Michigan, residents polled in the Bangor/Hartford area showed measurable improvements in their attitudes toward immigrants after just one year of activities in the region.< Our first-ever National Welcoming Week was just the beginning, and just a fraction of what we are achieving.  In fact, did you know our network brought together more than 12,000 immigrants and U.S. born individuals in 2012 alone?   
Would you like to be part of National Welcoming Week next year? Please email us your ideas, we'd love to hear from you!

Welcoming Week Highlights

Bringing Together New Neighbors  - and Putting Food on the Table for North Carolinians

Uniting NC gleaning project image
As a Welcoming Week project, Welcoming America affiliate Uniting NC hosted a joint service project, involving both recentimmigrants and longtime North Carolinians, to both build bridges among the volunteers and show immigrants’ desire to  provide assistance to the community at large. The project was to ‘glean a field'  for fresh produce for the region's largest food bank, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.   All the volunteers said they felt like it was a worthwhile experience, and would love to do it again.  New relationships were forged, and delicious sweet potatoes can now reach North Carolinians living in hunger.Diverse volunteers pick sweet potatoes as part of the Uniting NC Welcoming Week gleaning project

Rhode Island Bus Ads Tell the Story of Immigrants Giving Back

In Rhode Island, affiliate Welcoming Rhode Island launched a new campaign around National Welcoming Week that features ads with nine immigrants’ stories on 24 buses that travel the state, reaching about 75 percent of the population.  The ads, which show the positive contributions made by local immigrants, are part of the initiative's broader efforts to foster more positive relationships between natives and newcomers, and to highlight that "all Rhode Islander's have a story to tell." RhodeIsland Bus Ad image Rhode Island bus ad image

Celebrating New Americans and A Spirit of Unity Through Citizenship Ceremonies

In his proclamation commemorating the coinciding national citizenship day, the President stated, “Across our country, Americans are working side-by-side with our Nation’s newest citizens to build strong, welcoming communities that embrace the talents and contributions of all their members.” In Redwood City, California, Welcoming America’s affiliate, Redwood City 2020, was one of many groups across the country that did just that.  During the Naturalization Oath ceremony, people were able to share with each other their stories of immigration, giving U.S. born and long-time residents the chance to understand why people continue to migrate to the US and the contributions aspiring citizens make.   Through conversations, people understood that immigrants come to the US with the same hopes and dreams as US born residents have. Below:  Alabama volunteers show their spirit in a event hosted by Welcoming Alabama, which brought together immigrant and U.S. born volunteers to collect donations for a local food pantry.
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The Welcoming Movement is Spreading

Welcoming America | December 15, 2011

Welcoming America has already developed national reach, and will continue to grow until it has truly rekindled the American dream, coast to coast. Currently, nineteen[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"7","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright size-medium wp-image-2746","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"360","height":"270","title":"Affiliate Map ","alt":""}}]] campaigns – most of them statewide – are active across the country. This is up from just 7 campaigns in 2009. The demand for this dynamic new approach to addressing rapid immigration growth has proven quite high in communities across the country, and we anticipate significant growth in the number of affiliates over the next few years. The following three factors will be considered in the selection of affiliates for future campaigns: 1.) The capacity of the local organization(s) to build a successful, sustainable campaign with the active involvement of multiple sectors within the target community. 2.) The capacity of the local organization(s) to replicate the campaign in neighboring towns and cities. 3.) The severity of the current climate for immigrants in that area. For more information on affiliates, visit Our Affiliates.  To learn more about launching an affiliate, visit Opportunities for Action. Go Back

Is Your Community "Immigrant Friendly?"

Welcoming America | October 17, 2011

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"29","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignright size-medium wp-image-2630","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"229","height":"300","title":"Dayton plan graphic","alt":""}}]] The City of Dayton's "Welcome Dayton” plan is focused on making Dayton an “immigrant friendly city.” You can read about the plan in the article, "Welcome Dayton Immigrant Plan Approved." and view the Welcome Dayton plan, available here. Welcoming America wants to help you make your own community “immigrant friendly.” Here’s how: Start by registering at  Once you register, you can begin doing online and offline “actions,” which help you earn points that can win you cool prizes. Next, you can learn about welcoming strategies that can be applied in your community.  Here's just a few ways  to begin:
  • Read about the plan and share your comments – is your city or community “immigrant friendly?” What elements of this effort could be implemented in your community (or even your place of worship, school, or other venue)?
  • Want to start small?  Check out the actions in the school, workplace, and place of worship categories for discreet activities that help you welcome immigrants in these settings.
  • Interested in a larger scale initiative?  Visit our Affiliate Track actions to learn more about our affiliate model and to get started planning and organizing your effort.  You can even create a team to engage others (and earn more points)!
  • Work toward passing a Welcoming Resolution in your own community. Did you know that over the last few years Welcoming resolutions have been passed in seven communities in the states of Alabama, Idaho and Massachusetts? The combined population of these Welcoming communities is 1,069,832!
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Building A Nation of Neighbors How-To Videos

Welcoming America | August 24, 2011

Building a Nation of Neighbors equips individuals and organizations with story-based tools to better understand and use the Welcoming model. The module, which was developed by Active Voice in association with BeCause Foundation, was adapted from the documentary Welcome to Shelbyville, produced and directed by Kim A. Snyder.
This model for community building was designed by WelcomingTennessee (a program of TIRRC) and is being replicated nationwide by Welcoming America, with generous support from Unbound Philanthropy.
Order a DVD and user's guide: To order your own copy, please complete this form. Download a User's Guide: click here for a printable user's guide that will help you use the video modules most effectively. Share your thoughts: Win points and prizes for viewing the segments and sharing your thoughts on Friends of Welcoming (look for Shelbyville Multimedia actions).
Chapter 1, How Welcoming Works (4 min) - An introduction to the Welcoming model and how it relates to the community of Shelbyville.
Chapter 2, Local Leaders: The Foundation of Welcoming Work (2 min) - An overview of how the Welcoming model approaches local leadership development.
Chapter 3, Starting the Welcoming Conversation (4 min) - Context on Welcoming America’s work bringing immigrants and long-time residents into direct, facilitated contact.
Chapter 4, Welcoming Messages: Changing the Perception of Immigrants (5 min) - Background on the Welcoming approach of reversing negative images of immigrants by using strategic communications.
Chapter 5, From Neighbors to Friends: Overcoming Common Misunderstandings (5 min) - An overview of how to bring together community members to address misunderstandings and stereotypes. More
More Details: "Building a Nation of Neighbors":
As the Welcoming model continues to garner successes around the country, many are clamoring for tools to make their schools, local institutions, churches, communities and states more welcoming. “Building a Nation of Neighbors” is a short DVD that hones in on select scenes from Welcome to Shelbyville that exemplifies the Welcoming America model, while providing additional context on how it can work for a range of communities and audiences. From a seasoned “welcoming ambassador” to a concerned resident who wants to get the conversation started at her church, this module provides tips and guidance on how to build more welcoming communities.
“Building a Nation of Neighbors” is part of Shelbyville Multimedia, a project of Active Voice - in association with BeCause Foundation - designed to promote community building and harmony between native-born Americans, immigrants and refugees nationwide. It was developed in partnership with Welcoming America, with generous support from Unbound Philanthropy.
For more Shelbyville Multimedia resources, including webisodes and modules, visit
About "Welcome to Shelbyville"
Change has come to rural Tennessee. Set against the backdrop of a shaky economy, Welcome to Shelbyville takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. Welcome to Shelbyville is directed and produced by Kim A. Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation, in association with Active Voice. Visit
Watch the entire module below :
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Welcoming America Receives Draper Richards Kaplan Fellowship!

Welcoming America | June 24, 2011

Welcoming America is pleased to announce that it has won one of the top awards for new non-profits, a Draper Richards Kaplan Fellowship! In a global search, Welcoming America was identified as one of the highest-potential new non-profits and was awarded the prestigious Draper Richards Kaplan nonprofit social entrepreneur fellowship.
This award recognizes Welcoming America’s important work in promoting immigrant integration by engaging immigrant host communities. The award is a testament both to the important work of Welcoming America’s affiliates and the exciting potential for the network’s expansion in the future. Much of the funding will go towards supporting Welcoming America’s expanding number of affiliate organizations. We are excited and energized to continue to build a movement that transforms the country into a nation of neighbors, community by community.
The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation works to support visionary social entrepreneurs who generate sustainable impact at a large scale. The Foundation finds nonprofits led by talented social entrepreneurs with high impact models, funds those early stage nonprofit organizations with $300,000 over three years and supports their growth and impact by serving as a board member and creating a learning community for the nonprofit leaders. This strategy has yielded strong social returns to date. The Foundation’s First fund started in 2002 and contributed $14 million to 30 nonprofit organizations. The portfolio addresses a range of issues domestically and internationally, including education, health, economic development, human rights and civic engagement. Organizations grew significantly during their time in the portfolio, increasing their budget on average 10x and reporting that their impact more than doubled each year.
For more information about the Draper Richards Kaplan foundation, please visit:
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"Welcome to Shelbyville" and Welcoming America

Welcoming America | February 28, 2011

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Nationwide Welcome to Shelbyville Screenings a Huge Success!

Welcoming America | November 18, 2010

During the last two weeks of October,Welcoming America’s affiliates - along with their partners - screened the documentary Welcome to Shelbyville in more than a dozen communities. Over 1,200 people saw the film and were inspired by the story. For a full list of the events that took place, go to the calendar page and for more media coverage, scroll to the bottom of this post. Over and over again across the country, attendees of the Welcome to Shelbyville events stated that “This film could be about our town,” or a town just a few miles away. Participants next asked “How can I get involved?, What can I do?” Screenings were hosted at universities, museums, book stores and theatres, just to name a few. Some highlights from the events themselves:

  • After the screening in Shelbyville, former city manager Ed Craig said: "I thought it was very good...I think they're going to see a caring community dealing with issues that are common throughout the country."
  • In the town of Carey -- near Raleigh, NC -- a standing room only crowd of 275 filled the theatre to watch the film and attend Uniting NC’s launch event. Some were even turned away. At this spectacular launch, people of all religions, nationalities and races sat shoulder to shoulder and were eager to talk about how they could overcome misconceptions and build a more united community. (A blog post about the event can be found here.)
  • At one screening, a city council member who had introduced and was the lead force in passing an Arizona-style ordinance stated after seeing the film that it made him aware that the city ordinance did nothing to solve the city’s immigration issue, it potentially made things worse and he wanted to work to “make things right.”
  • Welcoming Colorado had over 300 people attend four screenings in different parts of the state. Following the October 21st film screening in Grand Junction, Denice Hoffman who works at the Literacy Center of the Mesa County Libraries commented that the film mirrored her life experience “The integration of immigrants in our community is key and it happens with the help of people such as ‘Ms. Luci’ in the film...These folks have helped immigrant students learn how to drive, fill out job applications and how to use the bus system. Building relationships is what this is all about.” (A blog post about the event can be found here.)
  • In Tuscaloosa, Alabama a dinner, screening and discussion was co-organized by Welcoming Alabama and held at the University of Alabama. The audience was deeply engaged in the discussion, during which some students revealed that this event was the first time students had met someone wearing a headscarf. Even a tornado a few hours before the event didn’t keep people away!
Some highlights from media and blog coverage:
  • From the article “Film Could be Re-named Welcome to Greeley-ville“ published on October 27, 2010 in The Greely Tribune (Greely, CO):
    • “In one of the most eye-opening scenes, a cross-section of ethnicities show up at a Somali woman's home to share in a Somali meal. Laughter, conversation, dancing — and baby steps of mutual understanding — unfold in the kitchen and living room.  Likewise, the lecture room in Gunter Hall became a de-facto caucus on multiculturalism when the lights came up and the hosts — Realizing Our  Community, a local nonprofit that promotes diversity, and the Denver-based Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning — moderated a discussion about the film and its themes.  An older white man said this about what's happening in Greeley-ville: ‘I don't think people are coming here to take over — they're bringing new energy into the place.’”
  • From the JV Consulting blog in Auora, CO:
    • “On Monday night, in the movie and in the conversation that followed, people were both saying tough things and listening to each other.  I came away feeling inspired and optimistic about the ability of people coming together to break down the barriers that distance us, and thinking that if we could all watch this movie between now and the end of the year, how 2011 might be different.
  • From the article "Documentary Spotlights Middle Tennessee Town" published November 20 on the WSMV-NBC website in Nashville, TN: 
    • "Many people who watched the film said they walked away with a greater understanding of the Somali culture. That seems to be the purpose of the film: to educate and eventually create community not just in Shelbyville, but in similar communities across Middle Tennessee and even across America."
  • From John Colson, Aspen Times Weekly in Aspen, CO:
    • "Even among an audience predisposed toward cross-cultural thinking, much more went unsaid than was said, both because of time constraints and a persistent feeling of uncertainty, doubt and anxiety that stands like a wall between the cultures.The people in that room, however, gave it their best shot and, I like to think, came away with a better understanding of the work to be done, and the difficulty of that work."
  • From the group discussion in St. Louis, moderated by KETC Channel 9 Executive Producer Jim Kirchher:
    • “I was very impressed by the balance in the film.  By the fact that they very very pointedly brought out the real difficulties people have and yet the whole upbeat tone of the film… instead of crying in your beer what to do about things.”
  • What follows are a few samples of the coverage from the media the screenings received:
Coming up next will be 90 community screenings of Welcome to Shelbyville in April and May of 2011 through ITVS and the national debut of the film on PBS in May! To get involved in Welcoming America, go to the Get Involved section of our website, or contact Ellen Gallagher at [email protected]. To host a screening of the film in 2011, contact Active Voice or visit this form. Welcome to Shelbyville is directed and produced by Kim Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation in association with Active Voice. Congratulations to our affiliates on their great events! Go Back