Promising Practices & Lessons from Local Communities

Publication date: 
May 2019
The Welcoming New Hampshire logo, which features the logo in blue and brown to the left of a mountain side and two figures dancing, all above the tagline, 'Weaving cultures, building communities.'

When the Endowment for Health launched the New Hampshire Immigrant Integration Initiative in 2014, it aspired to engage immigrants in all domains of community life – economic, social, political, cultural, educational and others – in the Granite state. Today the New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund is financing small business start-ups, thanks to a strategic partnership initiated by leaders in Concord. Conversation Cafés and Welcoming Week events in Manchester are bringing together long-time and new residents. In the Lakes Region, a young foreign-born boy attended his first soccer camp last summer, and in Nashua the Latin Hispanic International Futbol Association (LHIFA) has expanded to engage over 270 children, youth, and adults playing the sport in a family league as an outgrowth of this investment. At the start of this initiative, achievements like these were envisioned. Four years later, they are the result of ongoing hard work carried out by local collaboratives in four towns that are beginning to change the way New Hampshire welcomes immigrants. The Welcoming Concord Initiative, Welcoming Lakes Region, Welcoming Manchester, and One Greater Nashua are working earnestly to foster two-way integration between new Americans and their receiving communities.

A collaborative field-building community of practice, the NH Immigrant Integration Initiative (NH III) attracted additional support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and United Way of Greater Nashua. With leadership from the Endowment for Health, these investments reflect the recognition that immigrants are important to the future vitality of New Hampshire. As stated in the initiative’s request for proposals, immigrant integration is defined as an intentional effort that engages and transforms all community members, both native born and newcomers, in reaping shared benefits and creating a new whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. With funding that totaled $1,035,404 from 2014-2018, and countless hours of in-kind support from volunteers in all four communities, the initiative has generated active networks of people in each town for welcoming immigrants and refugees, and it has fostered a community of practice with statewide reach that builds upon Welcoming New Hampshire. Promising Practices & Lessons from Local Communities features programs and strategies emerging from NH III that are beginning to demonstrate community impact. Community impact is defined as any outcome or output that directly enhances the ability of immigrants in targeted NH communities to experience increased social inclusion and integration.

A companion piece, Profiles of Promising Practices & Lessons from Local Communities, provides more detailed information about each promising practice. Practices highlighted in this report were identified by each local collaborative as part of a sustainability planning process facilitated by the T. L. Hill Group. Local collaboratives took stock of work outlined in their comprehensive four-year plans to identify programs that demonstrated reasonable potential for long-term viability beyond the funded grant period.

Practices profiled in this report reflect areas of sustained interest and capacity based on each site’s distinct local context, leadership, and volunteer expertise. State level promising practices featured in this report are those implemented beyond a single site or identified by other sites as practices they seek to replicate or adapt in their communities. The NH III did not utilize a formal research or evaluation process to identify promising practices, nor were practices vetted using a common set of objectively determined selection criteria. Instead of engaging a panel of expert reviewers to verify evidence of success, this report draws from self-reported firsthand accounts by site members and NH III technical assistance providers. Practices exhibiting initial positive indicators of success based on performance during the 2014-2018 formal grant period are featured. For these reasons, practices highlighted in this report are referred to as “promising,” meaning that they demonstrate potential for long-term success. Practices profiled by each site are not perfect, but they have been effective to date in achieving specific programmatic and strategic goals. Lessons learned by members of NH III local collaboratives, their partners, supporters, and technical assistance providers are offered to inform and strengthen the field of immigrant integration. Promising practices are making it easier for new Americans and long-time residents to recognize one another as integral members of these New Hampshire communities.

Practitioners are the primary target audience for this information. Coalitions and organizations working with immigrants on the ground in New Hampshire and in local communities in other states are invited to learn about and experiment with promising practices emerging from NH III.

The Promising Practices Guide is organized into five sections: 1. Assembling & Managing a Local Collaborative, II. Planning the Initiative, III. Implementing the Initiative, IV. Promising Practices for Integrating New Americans, and IV. Sustaining Impact.

Profiles of Promising Practices are organized by subject categories: 1. Business and Economic Development, II. Civic and Community Engagement, III. Cultural Events & Exchanges, and IV. Policy Initiatives.

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