GCIR 2014 National Convening

Immigrants, Philanthropy, and America's Future: Learning from the U.S. South

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Convening Overview

From rural towns to sprawling metropolises, the face of America is changing. Recent demographic shifts have been especially pronounced in the U.S. South, where foreign-born migration is at a historic high. As with the country as a whole, immigrants in the South have invigorated declining communities, spurred economic growth, and reversed negative population trends. But with change also come challenges—some anticipated and some unforeseen.

GCIR's 2014 National Convening, Immigrants, Philanthropy, and America’s Future: Learning from the U.S. South, held May 20-22 in Nashville, Tennessee considered how philanthropy can address these challenges—and the opportunities they present. It highlighted the latest issues and trends in the field, effective funding strategies, and innovative program and policy models from this dynamic region, as well as other sites across the country.

The two-and-a-half-day event offered a mix of plenary sessions, issue-based conversations, knowledge-building workshops, learning labs, and off-site community conversations. All conference programming emphasized discussion, peer-based learning, and relationship building. 

“I am certain the GCIR 2012 convening was the best conference I have ever attended--and I have attended a LOT of conferences in my nonprofit life!”

-- Participant in GCIR’s 2012 convening

Attendees had a chance to:

  • Explore opportunities to engage a range of allies such as faith, business, labor, and civic groups in leveraging immigrants’ and refugees’ contributions and responding to their needs at the local, state, regional, and national level.
  • Learn about cutting-edge programs that welcome newcomers and promote immigrant integration.
  • Connect with other funders from across the country and discuss major policy changes affecting immigrants and refugees, from the Affordable Care Act to the Voting Rights Act and more.
  • Sharpen grantmaking skills and strategies through workshops and conversations on innovative models and promising practices.

“So many parts were standout and exceptional… the GCIR members are exceptional within philanthropy.”

-- Participant in GCIR’s 2012 convening

Session Highlights

The schedule included:

Plenary sessions that offered big-picture ideas, varied perspectives, and innovative approaches to addressing changing demographics, the role of local government, and communications strategies and challenges.

Workshops that presented an in-depth look at specific policy issues—such as English as a second language (ESL) and education, health, economic security and mobility, and civic participation—as well as grantmaking strategies.

Off-site community conversations that offered the opportunity to interact with and learn from diverse local organizations and service providers. These conversations brought participants to Casa Azafrán Community Center, a 28,800-square foot space located in one of Nashville’s most diverse districts, home to a collective of non-profits including educational, legal, health, and arts organizations, as well as the Siloam Family Health Center.

“This is what philanthropy should be about.”

-- Participant in GCIR’s 2012 convening