Investing in Our Communities: Strategies for Immigrant Integration

by Daranee Petsod; Ted Wang

May 1, 2007
This report gives the historical context of U.S. immigration, its vital and unyielding role in shaping the US and how grant makers can help assimilate populations, social change and community building in the future. The toolkit provides grant makers with integration frameworks, case studies, funding examples and opportunities, information resources, strategic planning steps and evaluation platforms for several different arenas. These arenas include: health, education, civic involvement and language.
  • Pioneer immigrant integration policies. The United States has no national immigrant integration policies, and developing such policies is a long-term goal that merits philanthropic support.
  • Promote self-sufficiency. To help immigrant families achieve self sufficiency and contribute fully to their communities, foundations can support a wide range of programs including: English classes, education, job training, health care, child care, affordable housing, financial education, access to credit, legal services, among many others.
  • Facilitate upwards mobility. Despite their crucial role in the U.S. economy, many immigrants face enormous challenges in achieving economic stability.
  • Ensure equal treatment and opportunity. True opportunity is not possible without equal treatment for all members of society. U.S. laws and policies need to address barriers to integration, such as workplace exploitation, housing discrimination, and restrictions on immigrants' access to resources such as health, social services, banking, and credit.
  • Support fair and human immigration policies. An immigration system that embodies the American values of fairness, equality, and opportunity is essential to promoting immigrant integration.
  • Build social and cultural bridges. Social and cultural interaction is critically important to foster understanding, build trusting relationships, and lay the foundation for mutual engagement.
  • Expand immigrant participation. The millions of immigrants who participated in rallies, marches, and demonstrations in 2006 clearly illustrate newcomer communitie' deep interest in civic life and their commitment to building a future in the United States.
  • Bolster organizational capacity. Local, regional, and national immigrant organizations -- and the coalitions and networks that link them together -- do a tremendous amount of work with relatively few resources.
  • Strengthen multi-ethnic, multi-sector alliances. Multi-ethnic and multi-sector alliances are vital to successful immigrant integration and effective community building.
  • Enhance communications capacity. Funding of communications activities is pivotal to creating openness to immigrant integration and policy reform measures that expand, instead of restrict, opportunities for newcomers and other communities that have mutual interests.
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