Cities selected for “Gateways for Growth Challenge” on immigrant integration

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, March 31, 2016

Twenty American communities have been selected to receive assistance in building inclusive approaches to welcoming and integrating immigrant populations. The awards were made by the nonprofits Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Welcoming America.

The Gateways for Growth challenge invited communities across the United States to apply for research, technical assistance, and matching grants to support the development and implementation of multi-sector strategic plans for welcoming and integrating immigrant newcomers.

A number of the winning communities have already been undertaking a skills-focused approach to immigrant integration:

  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was previously selected as part of a federal initiative to boost integration through English language classes and related activities. Lancaster partners in that initiative successfully raised more than $100,000 from local sources including the Rotary Club and United Way to support education and support services for immigrants and refugees.
  • Detroit and Macomb County, Michigan, are part of the Global Detroit initiative, which seeks to boost economic vitality through a range of activities. Among those are providing an online Welcome Mat with information on English classes, helping immigrant professionals move from low-wage jobs back into professional careers, and supporting entrepreneurship through ProsperUS.
  • Buffalo and Syracuse, New York, have robust workforce development activities underway. The nonprofit International Institute of Buffalo provides demand-driven job training to help refugees enter for the hospitality industry, while Catholic Charities of Buffalo has partnered with Niagara University to offer a Hospitality and Tourism certificate program for foreign-born jobseekers. In Syracuse, the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity advocates for broad-based economic inclusion strategies that include US-born and immigrant community members, via programs such as WorkTrain.

Gateways for Growth will assist communities in building on their existing economic development and immigrant integration efforts. In particular, the Challenge “will help communities develop and implement plans to integrate immigrants into their localities and compete in the global economy,” says PNAE Chairman John Feinblatt. 

All 20 of the communities selected for Gateways for Growth will receive one or more of the following types of assistance from PNAE and Welcoming America:

  • Customized quantitative research reports on the contributions immigrants make to their local economies
  • On-the-ground, technical assistance to help communities draft, execute, and communicate a multi-sector immigrant integration strategy
  • Small planning grants that a local partner has committed to match

In addition, PNAE and Welcoming America have produced an interactive map with examples from immigrant integration initiatives across the United States. The site provides detailed information on specific efforts – such as forming a municipal office for immigrant affairs or creating a community-wide strategic plan – as well as links to local resources, and best-practices guidance for those seeking to replicate successful programs and policies.

The full list of Gateways for Growth Challenge winners is:

  • Akron and Summit County, OH
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Columbus, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fargo, ND
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Kansas City, KS/MO
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Macomb County, MI
  • Nashville, TN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Phoenix, AZ and Arizona State
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Salt Lake County, UT
  • Upstate NY Region (Syracuse/Buffalo, NY)

About the Project Partners

The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. Learn more at

Welcoming America is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities across the nation becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feel like they belong. Learn more at