2017-2018 Strategic Action Plan
The Kansas City metro area was among 20 Gateways for Growth communities selected in late 2015 by a national partnership between the New American Economy and Welcoming America. The Gateways for Growth program provided technical assistance in the development of a multi-sector strategic plan for welcoming and integrating new Americans to the region. Selected communities are part of a national trend in which local government, business and civil society leaders embrace research showing that being inclusive toward immigrants helps cities and counties thrive economically. A Steering Committee met a number of times to inform this action plan, and will have an important role in overseeing its implementation.
A region comprised of local communities where all people, regardless of background, heritage or culture, are valued and included.
Create a welcoming and encouraging climate attractive to current and future residents, including immigrants and international students. Offer a region where those recently arriving in the community want to study, resettle, and contribute to the economic and cultural life of the community.
STRATEGIES AND ACTION STEPS
- Create a Welcoming Climate:
Objective 1: Assist local governments to become welcoming to immigrants to ensure that all residents, particularly those new to the United States and to the Kansas City region, feel welcome and respected.
- Action: Use a toolkit for local governments prepared by the Mid-America Regional Council and other resources to help identify and adopt policies and practices that ensure all residents feel welcome in their communities.
- MARC will disseminate the toolkit to area cities and counties in September 2017. MARC will encourage local communities to become certified welcoming communities through Welcoming America. Communities may begin with a $200 fee to become part of the Welcoming America Network (www.welcomingamerica.org/programs/certification). MARC will share information with local government officials through MARC Board and Managers Roundtable meetings, newsletters and trainings.
Objective 2: Ensure that all residents have access to city services and opportunities by removing barriers and encouraging participation.
- Actions: Develop and provide guidelines or checklists for local communities (to supplement the toolkit) for use to identify barriers in their programs and policies. Examples are from Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Dayton)
- Offer cultural competency training for city employees and review city programs and policies to ensure that they offer a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants.
- Timeline: Provide links to other communities’ checklists for area local governments in fall 2017. MARC’s Government Training Institute offers training on cultural competency, and will work with community partners to review/enhance the training to ensure that it is inclusive of creating a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants. MARC will promote the training to area cities and counties in 2018. MARC will encourage communities to review their programs and policies by mid-2018.
- Economic Opportunity and Education:
Ensure that all newcomers have the skills, resources and education to thrive, and employers are able to leverage the talents of the workforce.
Objective 1: Work with higher education to support international students’ success in achieving post-secondary attainment and employment in the metro area. Make businesses and the general community aware of the current challenges facing high education in attracting and retaining international students. Look at models such as Mosaic in St. Louis and Global Cleveland.
- Work with higher education counselors and students to understand the opportunities for international students to remain in the US if they graduate in certain STEM coursework/programs
- Work with higher education institutions to make college advisors and international student offices aware of each other’s services for international students and ensure smooth transition in such services
- Work with higher education and business groups to sponsor career fairs and internships targeted to international students, and establish student networks to help build contacts in the community
- Work with local attorneys and community groups to offer legal assistance to international students and immigrants in the visa process
- Work with higher education offices and workforce agencies to design career pathways to help immigrants that have been in the community for some time to secure certifications leading to employment
- Examine ways to conduct outreach to foreign exchange high school students to encourage them to consider area colleges and universities upon high school graduation
- MARC will convene higher education representatives through GradForce KC to discuss possible steps, including actions to become more welcoming as institutions by the end of 2017.
- MARC will work with higher education representatives to strengthen career services and other advising support to international students by the end of the first quarter of 2018.
- MARC will work with higher education representatives and business groups on career fairs that assist international students become acquainted with area employers, and to increase connections to internships or other experiential learning opportunities with area employers (first quarter of 2018)
- MARC will identify a regional broker to connect students with employers and employers with legal resources by the first quarter of 2018.
Objective 2: Work with higher education and business partners to attract and retain international students to the Kansas City colleges and universities.
- Action: Discuss with college and university representatives possible steps to address a reduction in applications and enrollment of foreign students.
- In 2017, MARC will start with an analysis of the number of students in STEM-related programs in regional institutions and compare enrollment to previous years to identify trends in international student enrollment.
- MARC will work with partners to explore the Campus Philly model to attract and retain international student talent to support the region’s workforce by the end of the second quarter of 2018.
Objective 3: Help area employers understand federal immigration rules in the hiring of international student interns and graduates
- Action: Work with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to provide training and information to employers on immigration rules for international students.
- Action: Work with community organizations to assist businesses in understanding immigration rules in hiring DACA students and other immigrants. Solicit assistance from legal experts.
- MARC met with Chamber staff in July 2017, and will work with the Chamber to identify resources to support training and information dissemination during 2017.
- Work with community organizations in fall 2017 and early 2018 to share information on immigration rules regarding employment of immigrants, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Action: Work with business and community organizations to offer cultural competency training for businesses.
- MARC will work with community organizations to develop cultural competency training that meets the needs of small and mid-sized employers and others so that we create a more welcoming environment for foreign-born populations by the second quarter of 2018. Review existing efforts by JVS for institutions such as St. Luke’s Hospital, Truman Medical Center, University of Kansas Medical Center
Objective 4: Increase entrepreneurship among immigrants by offering multi-lingual training, microfinance and business incubation support services (i.e., Hispanic Economic Development Council)
- Action: Work with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center to establish an entrepreneurship H1B visa program modeled after the one in New York City.
- Work with business organizations to convene HR managers with history of hiring immigrants to get their advice on how to design an effective program to help small and mid-sized businesses.
- MARC will support UMKC’s efforts to secure funding and launch a pilot program in 2018.
- MARC will work with partners to encourage convening of HR managers in 2018. MARC will ask the CORE4 HR managers (KCMO, Jackson County, Johnson County and Unified Government) to work on this issue of helping local governments understand hiring requirements in 2018.
Objective 5: Support immigrants to utilize their professional talents in achieving economic success to re-enter professions through career planning, mentoring, or support through licensing processes.
- Action: Work with community organizations that serve immigrants and enlist business volunteers to help immigrants in assessing their skills, determine how to achieve certifications or other licensing to re-enter their professions and offer their talents to the community and area employers.
- Action: Work with Small Business Development Centers in the metro area to ensure that their services meet the needs of immigrants eligible to take advantage of federal programs.
- Encourage community support for existing efforts by Jewish Vocational Service and Catholic Charities of NE Kansas (and others) to enlist additional volunteers to assist in skill assessment and support to their immigrant clients. (begin in fourth quarter 2017)
- In 2018, conduct outreach to SBDCs to determine steps they currently take to assist immigrants seeking to establish or expand a business, and if additional support is needed.
- Safe Communities:
Objective 1: Build trust between communities and law enforcement.
- Action: Work with local law enforcement to conduct outreach to community organizations, faith based groups and others to help in building trust of and by immigrants and law enforcement personnel.
- MARC’s Emergency Services/Homeland Security Program will work with local law enforcement regarding training of law enforcement personnel and on outreach to the community to build trust of and by immigrants and law enforcement personnel. MARC will implement at least 1 training in 2017 and 2 trainings in 2018.
- Civic Engagement:
Objective 1: Increase public awareness about existing pathways to citizenship, support immigrants in integrating into the community, and encouraging civic engagement.
- Action: MARC will identify and work with community organizations and local governments to increase understanding of our immigrant population, the benefits they bring to the community, how to build understanding and acceptance. Begin fourth quarter 2017.
- MARC will work with others to increase understanding through workshops, informational materials, presentations and other means beginning in fall 2017.
Prepared by Mid-America Regional Council
September 5, 2017