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Littleton, CO, City-Run Program Earns Prestigious New National Award for Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives

Press Release
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Littleton, CO, City-Run Program Earns Prestigious New National Award for Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives

WASHINGTON – The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday announced the four winners of its inaugural E Pluribus Unum national awards for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, with an innovative city-run citizenship mentoring and coordinated, multi-agency immigrant services program in Littleton, Colorado, receiving a $50,000 prize.

The E Pluribus Unum Prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy with generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to inspire others to take on this important work and encourage the adoption of effective integration practices.

The Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative (LI3) and the three other E Pluribus Unum Prize winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress featuring remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and other national policymakers. The winners were selected from more than 500 applications received from across the nation.

Against a backdrop of changing demographics common to Colorado and other “new destination” states, civic and government leaders in Littleton decided to address head-on the changes in their community brought about by a 600 percent rise in immigration between 1990 and 2000. In 2005, these leaders launched a bridge-building initiative to foster closer ties between native-born residents and immigrants, encourage civic engagement and greater cultural understanding, and connect immigrants with services that could bolster their professional, educational and health outcomes.

The Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative includes a one-on-one citizenship mentoring program believed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be unique.

Seeking to create a coordinated cross-agency response, the LI3 initiative also operates an innovative One-Stop Information Center housed at a local public library. The Information Center assists immigrants on topics ranging from jobs, education, health and dental care, transportation, banking and housing.

“What makes the Littleton initiative so special is that it is the result of a dialogue initiated by a range of civic leaders and that in its execution it leverages the resources of government agencies, local organizations and community volunteers. It’s a smart, thoughtful approach to engaging all the key players in a community proactively on the matter of changing demographics,” said Margie McHugh, co-director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy:

“Littleton has a history of taking a proactive approach to emerging issues,” said City Manager Jim Woods. “The Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative has been a tremendous success due to the response of our citizens in embracing new immigrants. We want immigrant families to feel welcome and be involved in all elements of our community.”

The Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative, funded by independent grants and some city support, features:

  • A one-on-one citizenship mentoring program believed to be unique and through which 99.9 percent of students pass their citizenship exam. This program pairs immigrants studying for U.S. citizenship exams with volunteers from Littleton.
  • An innovative One-Stop Information Center housed at a local public library and staffed by an employee who assists immigrants on a wide range of health care, professional, education and financial topics.
  • English as a Second Language classes, a travelling Literacy Program (with free books in English and Spanish), a community Resource Festival, an international cultural festival and co-sponsored Back-to-School events.

The Littleton initiative and the three other winners, each given a $50,000 award, are reflective of the diversity of government and non-government organizations involved in immigrant integration efforts at the state and local levels. The E Pluribus Unum Prizes were created to foster the sharing of effective integration practices and showcase the need for greater policy focus on immigrant integration, particularly at the national level.

“Regardless of the politics of immigration, the need for better immigrant integration in the United States is a pressing one,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, co-director of the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy: “The City of Littleton’s initiative is an innovative, carefully considered program that speaks to what we call ‘two-way integration’ – bringing together newcomers and native-born Americans to create a stronger, more successful community.”

The other E Pluribus Unum national award winners are: AVANCE- El Paso (El Paso, TX); Internationals Network for Public Schools (New York, NY); and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (Nashville, TN).

Information about all the award winners can be found at www.integrationawards.org. For more information or to set up interviews, contact Michelle Mittelstadt at 202-266-1910 or mmittelstadt@migrationpolicy.org.

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The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C., dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.