Faith in Action Selects the Welcoming America Campaign
At Faith in Action’s Covenant Representative Assembly on February 1, 2016, bringing the Welcoming America Campaign to the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County was selected as the issue for the year.
As Faith in Action we call on Harrisonburg City Council and Rockingham County Board of Supervisors to join Welcoming America, a national network of cities that “inspire people to build a different kind of community–one that embraces immigrants and fosters opportunity for all.” By committing city/county staff time and allocating funds to make our local workforce development services immigrant friendly, we will be able to create access to jobs for immigrant neighbors.
Building Welcoming Communities
Principles Making the initial commitment to:
- Bring community together to develop policies, programs, or initiatives that build welcoming communities
- Communicate value for all residents of integration agenda through proclamations
- Share information on progress using the BWCC roadmap to success Enhancing collaboration by:
- Establishing a multi-sector collaborative to create a vision, strategy, and comprehensive plan to expand opportunities for New Americans
- Taking action and demonstrating progress through one or more of 3 key action areas:
- Encouraging immigrants and refugees to fully participate in civic life
- Harnessing the full potential of all residents, which includes:
■ Using the skills and education of New Americans
■ Empowering newcomers to build small businesses
■ Building financial capabilities through financial education
■ Unlocking the doors to homeownership
8. Supporting English language learning and higher education opportunities
What is a welcoming city or county?
-Plans: Relevant sectors (govt, business, nonprofit) work together to create welcoming climate that supports long-term integration.
-Commits: to institutionalize strategies for inclusion, long-term integration (soc&econ)
-Builds Community: New & long-time residents find common ground and shared leadership.
-Communicates: Messages of unity/shared values through media, leaders, and residents.
-Sustains: Policies and practices ensure interactions between new and long-time residents remain positive, & economic vitality remains strong.
Three Approach Model
- Connect community leaders, government, and nonprofits
- Build upon the work already happening (evidence-based/best practices)
- Change systems and cultures by creating policy, reinforcing welcoming principles (what are the principles?) and communicating socioeconomic benefits of inclusion
Examples of Welcoming Communities
Nashville: Statement from mayor’s office along with the Mayor’s Office for New Americans, article about the immigrant population’s roots and significance (12% of population), listed under mayor’s priorities for the city: http://www.nashville.gov/Mayors–Office/Priorities/NewAmericans.aspx. Programs are:
- MyCity Academy: training program for NA to understand and participate in government
- Parent Ambassadors: pairs seasoned NA parents w/ newcomer parents
- Pathways for New Americans: partnership between gov and USCIS for citizenship
- New Americans Advisory Council: ensures NA leaders have a voice in city gov
Businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations for immigrants and refugees in the city:
- Center for Refugees+Immigrants of Tennessee
- Tennessee Immigrant and Refugees Rights Coalition
- Nashville International Center for Empowerment
- World Relief Nashville (refugee resettlement)
- American Association of Refugee and Immigrant Women
- Catholic Charities of Tennessee
- Southern Migrant Legal Services
- Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors
Dayton, Ohio: Welcome Dayton is a community initiative that reflects our country’s core philosophy: people with diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences fuel our nation’s success. The Welcome Dayton effort promotes immigrant integration into the greater Dayton region by encouraging business and economic development; providing access to education, government, health and social services; ensuring equity in the justice system; and promoting an appreciation of arts and culture.
For more information go the Welcome Dayton website http://www.welcomedayton.org/category/stories/