The Latino Migration Project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a two-year, $112,609 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to expand Building Integrated Communities, an initiative that strengthens civic engagement, linguistic achievement and economic and educational advancement for immigrants in North Carolina municipalities.
Building Integrated Communities is a statewide initiative that helps North Carolina’s local governments engage with immigrants and refugee populations to improve public safety, promote economic development, enhance communication and improve relationships. The program helps local governments and diverse community stakeholders develop tools to generate locally relevant strategies to strengthen immigrant civic engagement, linguistic achievement and economic and educational advancement.
The initiative is led by The Latino Migration Project at UNC, an education and research program dedicated to improving public understanding about the impact and implications of the expanding Latin American presence in North Carolina and the southeastern United States.
“Our work is strengthened by our many community collaborators across the state who are open to respectful dialogue about demographic change,” said Hannah Gill, director of The Latino Migration Project.
Building Integrated Communities has worked with the cities of Greenville and High Point since 2010 to create and implement citywide immigrant integration plans, the first such plans in the South. More than 250 foreign-born residents representing 26 countries participated in these planning processes from 2010-2012.
Initiatives have included an Interfaith Advisory Committee, increased provisions of bilingual information, access to transit systems in immigrant communities and formulating steps to link immigrants, service providers and established residents through personal interaction and increased cultural knowledge.
“As we go about the work of fully integrating immigrants in our community, it’s not about creating a special corner … it’s making sure immigrants stand next to, speak with and are heard by … non-immigrants in every facet of life,” said Al Heggins, human relations director for the city of High Point.
In the past four decades alone, the South has become a region of economic growth and rapid demographic change, with one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the nation.
In October 2014, The Latino Migration Project will host a public forum for municipal leaders throughout North Carolina to learn about Building Integrated Communities methods and tools for launching their own integration efforts.
For more information, visit http://migration.unc.edu.
Contact: Hannah Gill, The Latino Migration Project, 919.962.5453, email@example.com