Knight Awards $1 Million to Promote Immigrant-Friendly Cities

Welcoming America in Decatur, Georgia, has announced a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to expand locally driven efforts to better integrate and leverage the talents of immigrants as a way to promote economic development.

The organization, which supports a national network of municipal governments committed to advancing an immigrant-friendly agenda, will use the grant to convene, network with, and provide technical assistance to local governments to help them develop welcoming policy agendas and programs, while its Welcoming Cities and Counties program will work to encourage participating city and county governments to share best practices. Partner organizations include the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Partnership for a New American Economy, which will provide support and engage the business sector in the initiative, and the National Partnership for New Americans, which will work to advance efforts to promote citizenship among eligible immigrants as a way to encourage greater community participation.

According to the foundation, immigrant families are disproportionately likely to start a business; indeed, as of 2010, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies had been founded by immigrants or their children.

"A growing number of community leaders are recognizing that new Americans and immigrants are a largely untapped pool of talent that can play an essential role in the economic growth of their cities," said Carol Coletta, the foundation’s vice president for community and national initiatives. "By expanding opportunities for these groups and forging connections between the government and residents, Welcoming America is providing cities with the resources they need to be successful, while helping to create stronger, more engaged communities that are invested in our democracy."