The New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA has just released Champaign County Welcoming Plan. It's a guide for any and all parts of our community to create a more welcoming environment for immigrants. The report was years in the making, and you can read it in its entirety here.

The Champaign County Welcoming Plan provides a framework to pursue a more equitable and inclusive future. It serves as a guide for all of Champaign County to take actionable steps forward in building community of belonging, where all of us - no matter where we come from - have equal opportunity to thrive.

“The multi-year effort to create this plan is a testament to the commitment Champaign County has to ensure our community is welcoming and inclusive,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “At approximately 25,500 strong, Champaign County is home to one of the largest immigrant populations in Illinois – and we know that number will continue to grow. This new Welcoming Plan covers many important topics and outlines critical recommendations for us all as we work towards the goal of ensuring that newcomers and immigrants can flourish in our community.” 

Champaign County is home to one of the largest immigrant populations in Illinois. In 2017, Champaign-Urbana was one of 25 communities nationwide selected for the Gateways for Growth Award to receive custom research from the New American Economy (NAE) on the demographic and economic impact of immigrants in Champaign County, as well as technical assistance from NAE and Welcoming America to support the planning process. Over the past three years, members of Champaign County’s immigrant communities, service providers, government, businesses, public sector institutions and faith communities worked together to create a plan for social, civic, and economic integration of the immigrant community. The Champaign County Welcoming Plan recognizes the contributions of a growing immigrant community and the vital need to create an inclusive environment for all residents of the county.

"Immigrants are already active residents of our county; this welcoming plan only helps make them a more integrated part of a vibrant community of people.” Ricardo Diaz, Chair, New American Welcome Center Advisory Board. 

“As the fabric of our local Muslim community is woven by representatives of over 40 countries, we value and appreciate all sincere efforts in serving the needs of immigrant individuals & families,” said Ahmed Taha, President of the Muslim American Society (MAS) of Urbana-Champaign. “As a founding advisory board member of the University YMCA’s New American Welcome Center (NAWC), we are committed to working hand-in-hand to make UC an inclusive and welcoming environment.”

Top image from the Immigrant Welcome Plan report.