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More than 50 people from across the Kansas City region have been working together on a Welcoming Kansas City Region plan with the goal of making the bistate region more inclusive for immigrants, refugees and other underserved populations. In developing a plan, the Welcoming Kansas City Region group used tools and processes developed by Welcoming America, a national organization that assists nonprofit and governmental entities interested in transforming their communities into more welcoming places.
The community-driven effort, funded through a $76,000 grant from the REACH Foundation, involved diverse people and organizations that collaborated over 18 months to identify strategies and an action plan that could encompass the bistate region.
Greg Valdovino, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Greater Kansas Chamber of Commerce, which facilitated the process, said the next step is to invite feedback from the broader community before putting the finishing touches to the plan this summer.
“This process helped me broaden my own understanding of the diverse leaders, organizations and enterprise within our bistate area,” Valdovino said. “Every discussion reinforced the core principal that our region’s greatest asset is our people – and that Greater Kansas City is stronger when we all have an opportunity to contribute and succeed.”
Welcoming America provided a framework for embedding community voices into the plan. A steering committee helped build a timeline and recruit people from various parts of the metro area and professional and social sectors to lead workgroups in six areas: Civic Engagement, Connected Communities, Economic Development, Education, Equitable Access, and Government Leadership and Safe Communities.
Workgroup members analyzed regional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; held focus groups to pull in additional perspectives from immigrant and refugee communities and agencies; interviewed identified leaders in these areas; and used their research to outline strategies and goals in each framework area.
Valdovino says the last phase in the planning involves outreach to people who may have been missed in previous discussions. “We have intentionally identified people and organizations that we believe need to provide comment on the plan before we release a final report to the public,” said Valdovino.
Toward that end, the steering committee is inviting interested individuals to review the goals and strategies in the draft plan.
Feedback can be sent to Greg Valdovino, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, email@example.com. Input is requested by June 15, 2020.