Community Engagement

A city prospers when all residents are engaged and feel empowered to participate in their community – whether it’s by voting, volunteering in their child’s school, joining civic organizations, attending local festivals or knowing how to navigate city government and access city services. The City of Atlanta is committed to extending a warm welcome to all new Atlantans and fostering full integration into our community by taking steps such as increasing our language capabilities within city government, providing opportunities for community dialogues, celebrating and harnessing the diversity already present in Atlanta and bringing resources to the region through federal and national partnerships to assist and promote naturalization.

When immigrants choose Atlanta, our city’s competitive edge strengthens with the diversity of thought, talent and culture brought into our communities. Moving to a new city is a daunting experience. Adjusting to a new language and cultural traditions makes the move more challenging. The Welcoming Atlanta initiative is a commitment by the City of Atlanta to ensure that our immigrants and refugees are supported and are provided the tools to thrive as Atlantans. The Welcoming Atlanta initiative began in the Spring of 2014 when Mayor Kasim Reed convened a working group of diverse leaders and a city staff lead to answer the question, “how do we better support the immigrants and refugees already living in the City of Atlanta and how do we attract more immigrants and refugees to choose Atlanta?” Among the variety of recommendations put forth by the working group—ranging from access to services, community engagement, harnessing talent to public safety—included a unanimously agreed upon need to  institutionalize the Welcoming Atlanta initiative to ensure a sustainable immigrant-integration plan for the City of Atlanta. To effectively engage with our new Atlantans, a City of Atlanta leadership team will work in tandem with a community advisory committee. Together, the Chief Service Officer, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayoral Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee and the Welcoming Atlanta website aim to bridge the gap between new and native Atlantans by fostering opportunities to celebrate, support and attract diversity to our city and ensuring a city government that is accessible and responsive to all of its residents.

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs was established by Mayor Kasim Reed in the Spring of 2015 to institutionalize the Welcoming Atlanta initiative within city government. This office falls under the purview of the Chief Service Officer who oversees strategic civic and social welfare priorities for Mayor Reed.  Staffed by a Director and a Deputy Director, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs serves as the liaison between the City of Atlanta and the immigrant and refugee community; builds capacity within city government to better support immigrants and refugees; and implements the 2014 Welcoming Atlanta Working Group immigrant-integration recommendations.

The Mayoral Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee

The Mayoral Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee was established in September 2014 to ensure a holistic community-wide approach to immigrant and refugee integration and an ongoing dialogue between the Administration, immigrant and refugee service providers and the philanthropic and business community.

“Mayor Reed’s commitment to embracing Atlanta’s changing demographics and supporting the economic and social contribution of immigrants and refugees reaffirm Atlanta’s position as a national leader on civil and human rights issues.” – Charles Kuck, Managing Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners

“The communities we serve every day are full of talented multi-cultural and multi-lingual individuals eager to contribute. Supporting the civic and economic empowerment of these individuals will build community and will provide Atlanta businesses with a significant competitive edge.” – Jeffery Tapia, Executive Director, The Latin American Association

Website

The Welcome Atlanta website is a tool for all Atlantans that celebrates the contributions of Atlanta’s immigrant and refugee population. It also serves as a resource to facilitate integration for Atlanta’s foreign-born communities. Our goal is to provide verified, trusted and up-to-date information for new arrivals as they navigate the opportunities our city, state and country have to offer. Please check back with us soon to learn about new Welcoming Atlanta initiatives and events. Language and Accessibility: This website will be made available in multiple languages, but we ask for your patience as we take the necessary steps to ensure quality translated material. However, please contact us if you require information in a language currently not available and we will assist you.

Citizenship is an important milestone for eligible immigrants and refugees. Nearly one third of Atlanta’s non-citizen immigrants are currently eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, but have not done so because of the cost or lack of access to sound legal advice. Naturalized citizens not only enjoy more financial security than non-citizen immigrants—earning on average $14,787 more in annual earnings—but also the rights, responsibilities and freedoms that we as Americans hold dear. See the Economic Benefits of Naturalization for Immigrants and the Economy for more information on the benefits of citizenship.

USCIS-City of Atlanta Partnership Agreement

On April 15, 2015, Mayor Kasim Reed and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Directo2015-07-10-1436539006-6796004-ATL_3777r León Rodríguez formalized a partnership between the City of Atlanta and USCIS to jointly promote citizenship awareness and civic participation through education and outreach to immigrants and refugees in Atlanta. Click HERE to view the Letter of Agreement between the Office of the Mayor of the City of Atlanta and USCIS.

There are currently 22 citizenship resources centers located inside the city and more in the metro area. For a comprehensive list of locations and citizenship events click Citizenship Resource Center Locations.

If you would like assistance from Welcoming Atlanta in becoming a U.S. Citizen, please fill out the following form: https://goo.gl/forms/D0CpiybBss17KOvp2

 

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Voting is a right and responsibility of every U.S. citizen. As a city that celebrates the diversity of culture and thought of its residents, we believe that language and unfamiliarity with the voting process should not be barriers to exercising the civic right and responsibility bestowed upon U.S. born and naturalized U.S. citizens. The City of Atlanta is partnering with immigrant and refugee-serving organizations to provide multilingual voter registration at City of Atlanta festivals. We welcome all new Americans to stop by the Welcoming Atlanta booth to get informed, registered and energized to start participating in our country’s democratic process.

Upcoming Events:

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Atlanta Soccer Festival: Saturday, October 15th 11am-3pm at Georgia State Football Fields

Come out and enjoy soccer clinics by Soccer in the Streets, barbecue, celebrities, and information on how to work, live, and play in the City of Atlanta!

 

Past Events:

Atl Jazz Fest logoAtlanta Jazz Festival When: May 22-25, 2015 Where: Piedmont Park Participating Organizations: Pro-Georgia, New American Pathways, GALEO

 

 

Partner with Welcoming Atlanta to Register New American Voters Are you interested in hosting a Welcoming Atlanta voter registration booth at your event or volunteering to register new voters at city festivals? To get involved email us at welcomingatlanta@atlantaga.gov.

SOULSESSIONS

Mayor Kasim Reed’s Office of Immigrant Affairs partnered with Councilman Kwanza Hall to host a screening of the short narrative film “ELLIS” starring Academy Award® Winner Robert De Niro, written by Academy Award® winner Eric Roth, and directed by the artist JR.   The fourteen minute film tells the story of Ellis Island and the immigrant journey during the early years, through the eyes of one immigrant.  The partnering offices wanted to create a space for an open dialogue regarding the many stories of Atlanta’s foreign born citizens.  To support the conversation, panelists from a wide variety of global backgrounds were in attendance**:

Chris Scott – President & CEO, Caribbean Association of GA, James Woo – Communications and Outreach Associate, Advancing Justice for Asian Americans, Rick Tapia – Founder, La Bodega International, LLC and Creator of J.R. Revelry, Jessica Colotl – Immigration Activist, Hussein Mohamed– Director, Sagal Radio

Our panelists were kind enough to share with the audience their personal stories, comparisons and contrasting experiences immigrating to the United States.  It was discovered that although they came from different countries of origin at different times, most had similar elements to their experiences. We are happy to report that the event was well attended by approximately 50 people who were able to enjoy international treats from local foreign-born entrepreneur Mynra Perez and her “Lotta Frutta” culinary business.

**Click here for ELLIS-Discussion-Guide

Check back soon for updates

From September 12 – 20, 2015, the City of Atlanta celebrated national Welcoming Week with 14 events taking place throughout the City in celebration of Atlanta’s foreign-born community. The purpose of our Welcoming Week celebration was to introduce Atlanta’s immigrant community to city government and services, while highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion across communities.  During Welcoming Week, the Welcoming Atlanta successfully, directly engaged with an estimated 971 community members. Check out this video on our 2015 Welcoming Week and a list of all of our 2015 welcoming events below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc-GfU-qyWM&feature=youtu.be

Atlanta Welcoming Week

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ConnectHome is a City of Atlanta Initiative partnered with the Department of Atlanta Information Management working to bridge the digital divide by providing tablets and a year of free internet service to families who have school-aged children and meet certain requirements. During Welcoming Month, Welcoming Atlanta helped host the 3rd pilot launch of this program where families from Benteen Elementary, Agape Youth & Family Center, and LaAmistad where we were able to reach a large number of families with students in ESL programs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted an article following the event: “ConnectHome Atlanta Helps Foreign-Born Students.” Due to the success of this event, we hope to continue this initiative in the future.

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