Community partners and partnerships strengthen the safety net, increase resilience and communication, and reduce opportunities for marginalization. Learn about ways to form partnerships.
In many receiving communities, there are government and nonprofit services trying to help newcomers thrive. To work effectively – saving resources and money while offering high-quality services – it is important that agencies and individuals collaborate. Community partners can offer the best possible support to newcomers.
Find your community partners
As you think about how you can help newcomers, find out what others are doing, and who are the people and organizations leading the efforts. The Welcoming America network is a good place to start.
Here are some potential community partners:
- What about law enforcement? Do they have sufficient awareness and a conscious program to support newcomers?
- Are the arts organizations in your area doing anything to include refugees and other immigrants in their planning?
- Are churches, mosques and synagogues reaching out?
- Which non-profits and health clinics offer services for immigrants?
- Are there interpreters available for PTA meetings and medical appointments?
- How involved are local leaders – the town council, the economic development group – in creating a welcoming community?
- Is there anywhere – a social services office, a human rights organization – that people can turn to for advice?
- What are the colleges and schools doing to be inclusive?
The list goes on and on. If you can form a comprehensive picture of what is and what is not available, and where the strengths and weaknesses lie in your neighborhood, you will find ways to fill needs and strengthen collaborations.
Engaging local leaders as community partners is crucial to success
It’s been shown that even in most anti-immigrant communities, local leaders can turn the tide. If you can get church leaders and local legislators to engage with an inclusive message and lead the way, you will reach community members who may otherwise resist or resent new neighbors.
Community partners create joint projects
It is not hard to find common ground among people from diverse backgrounds because humans have the same needs and concerns. Think about what your community needs that people can come together around. Do you need a community garden? A sports facility? A neighborhood watch or crisis preparedness initiative?
Creating civic opportunities for newcomers
Joint projects are especially effective if they create civic opportunities for newcomers. It introduces new Americans as contributors instead of recipients in the community. Bilingual teens can help with tutoring younger children. Homemakers may be available during the day to help at the school. Seniors may have agricultural skills to bring to a community garden.
Partnering with local businesses
According to the New American Workforce, integrated workers are happier and more productive, so getting employers to connect with a community college, library or community center to provide English or citizenship classes classes for workers can be presented as a win-win.