Philadelphia is the fourth City in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the largest City nationwide to achieve the designation
PHILADELPHIA – Today, the City of Philadelphia announced its official Certified Welcoming designation by Welcoming America, a formal designation for cities that have created policies and programs reflecting their values and commitment to immigrant inclusion. Currently, there are only 18 Certified Welcoming cities and counties across the country, including Philadelphia.
“It is an honor to be formally recognized as a Certified Welcoming city,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Philadelphia has worked tirelessly to be a place where people—from all walks of life—feel a sense of belonging. Our greatest strength is our vibrant diversity and that is in part due to the tremendous and continuous contributions made by our immigrant communities. This special recognition is not the end of our efforts, but a true testament to the commitment and hard work of City departments and partner organizations.”
Building a City that is welcoming, inclusive, and equitable has long been a priority for the Kenney Administration. The process to become Certified Welcoming takes several years and requires a multisector effort involving all City departments, community partners, local organizations, law enforcement agencies, the education sector, and more.
“Philadelphia’s leadership as a Certified Welcoming city shows how a principled response to migration, driven by values of equity and inclusion, can strengthen communities for all people,” said Rachel Perić, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “By making the work of building a welcoming community everybody’s business, Philadelphia continues its historic role in reaffirming an American democracy in which all people — regardless of birthplace — can thrive, belong, and prosper.”
Citywide efforts earned Philadelphia an overall score of 92 out of 100 points in the certification process. The average score among Certified Welcoming cities and counties is 55 points.
“This certification is a testament to the decades of partnership and advocacy from immigrant leaders and immigration services partners,” said Amy Eusebio, Executive Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs. “It also speaks to the willingness of City leaders to listen, learn, and adjust policies to better serve all residents, regardless of where they were born and what language they speak. We are proud of this accomplishment and know this is one step in an ongoing process for the full inclusion of immigrants into Philadelphia’s civic, economic, and cultural life. Our office looks forward to leading the next phase of welcoming policies and programs in partnership with our local community and with ongoing support from Welcoming America.”
The City is committed to building on this success. Looking ahead, the Office of Immigrant Affairs will collaborate with community leaders and other stakeholders to create a formal welcoming plan that will ensure that existing and future long-term goals are reflective of the priorities and needs of Philadelphia’s immigrant communities.
Read Welcoming America’s press release here.
“This designation reflects the hard work and commitment of our staff to assure that our recreation centers, libraries, education programs, and services to Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens are delivered with respect and appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness,” said Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families. “Providing services and opportunities based on these values is the cornerstone of our work at the Office of Children and Families and will help achieve our mission of keeping children safe, strengthening families, and supporting our schools and communities.”
“I am proud to work for an administration that from day one has been a driver for equitable rights for immigrants in our City and region,” said Romana Lee-Akiyama, Executive Director of the Office of Public Engagement. “As Philadelphia continues to grow and recover from the pandemic, it is my hope that Philadelphia’s recognition as Certified Welcoming will remind us that together, we can and will accomplish so much for all marginalized communities and residents.”
“I am incredibly proud of the work that our City has done to foster a welcoming culture throughout each branch of government and through our strategic partnerships,” said Kia Ghee, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. “Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion ensures that services provided to all residents including immigrant communities are linguistically and culturally competent.”
“While there is still plenty of work to do in terms of equity in Philadelphia, this public recognition as a Certified Welcoming city is an important milestone for intentionally building programs and outreach efforts to include people and families who are crucial to our communities and local economies that have been historically marginalized,” said Candace Chewning, Director of the Office of Worker Protections. “I look forward to the continued inclusion efforts and commitments of every leader and hero who has made this honor possible and I commend the City as a whole. I especially want to recognize and appreciate the Office of Immigrant Affairs and this administration for collaborating with the Office of Worker Protections in particular to expand our outreach and language access programming.”
“Cities thrive when all residents have equitable access to information and services,” said Stephanie Reid, Executive Director of Philly Counts. “Since the creation of our office in 2019, Philly Counts has worked closely with the Office of Immigrant Affairs to ensure our community outreach and engagement is accessible to all Philadelphians. We have worked together on a variety of materials including census information, COVID vaccine outreach, voter guides, and City resources and services, understanding that creating materials that are culturally competent and in a community’s first language can significantly increase the community’s acceptance and use of information. I am proud to serve in an administration that truly values inclusivity and provides resources and support for us to make our work more accessible.”
“We would like to congratulate the City on its designation and its commitment to ensuring that Philadelphia continues to be a place of refuge and opportunity for refugees and immigrants,” said Dr. Tony Watlington, Superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia. “The School District of Philadelphia will continue our long-standing work to support immigrant and refugee children to become true members of our classrooms and welcome neighbors in our school communities.”