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New American Welcome Center coming to C-U

Last month, in response to the new administration’s executive order on immigration, Champaign mayor Deb Feinen released a statement voicing her support for immigrants in the City of Champaign. The City of Urbana is one of four sanctuary cities in the state of Illinois. Now the University of Illinois YMCA, already a champion for diversity and immigration advocacy, is establishing a New American Welcome Center here in Champaign-Urbana, with an impressive list of local leaders on the advisory committee. There will be a news conference in the YMCA board room at 3pm this afternoon detailing the program. See the full press release below.

New American Welcome Center coming to C-U
Community Leaders Join University YMCA Initiative

The University YMCA was recently selected to be one of six YMCAs in the United States to develop a New American Welcome Center (NAWC) in 2017. Launched in 2016 by YMCA of the USA, the New American Welcome Centers are designed to help immigrants fully integrate into American society and prepare receiving communities to be welcoming and inclusive.

In support of the Y’s cause to strengthen communities, NAWCs foster an environment that encourages newcomer integration and community cohesion. NAWCs accomplish this by scaling sustainable newcomer inclusion programs through a blend of direct and referral services, engaging community partners and leading community bridge-building efforts that connect new immigrants and the receiving communities. In addition to Champaign-Urbana, the Y’s NAWCs serve communities in Boston (MA), Charlotte (NC), Columbus (OH), Houston (TX), Long Beach (CA), Los Angeles (CA), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN), New York (NY), Portland (ME), Seattle (WA), and Snohomish County (WA).

In an effort to engage key community stakeholders, the University Y has recruited a broad cross section of community leaders including elected officials, public and private sector institutions, immigrant and religious leaders as well as non-profits working with local immigrant communities to serve on the NAWC’s Advisory Board (see attached list).

WHAT: News Conference announcing University Y’s New American Welcome Center

WHO: University YMCA and community leaders including:
Mayor Deborah Feinen and Mayor Laurel Prussing
State Representative Carol Ammons
State Senator Scott Bennett
Associate Chancellor Assata Zerai
and other members of Advisory Committee (see list)
WHEN: Monday, March 27, 2017 at 3:00 PM

WHERE: Board Room of the University YMCA (2nd floor)
1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, Illinois

For more information, contact Megan Flowers at 251-209-2615 or Mike Doyle 217-766-4115.

New American Welcome Center Advisory Committee Members
Partial List –3/20/17

* Scott Bennett, State Senator

* Carol Ammons, State Representative

* Pius Weibel, Board Chair, Champaign County

* Deb Feinen, Mayor, City of Champaign

* Laurel Prussing, Mayor, City of Urbana

* Dr. Assata Zerai, Associate Chancellor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

* Don Owen, Superintendent, Urbana School District

* Julie Pryde, Health Administrator, C-U Public Health District

* Joe Omo-Osagie, Board Member, Champaign County Mental Health Board

* Jen White, President, Champaign Federation of Teachers, Local 1925

* Craig Rost, Executive Director, Champaign County Economic Development Corp.

* Laura Bliell, Associate Director, UI research Park

* Mauricio Salinas, Owner, El Oasis

* Luis Cuza, St. Patrick Catholic Church, C-U FAIR

* Ousmane Sawadogo, Imam, Central Illinois Mosque & Islamic Center

* Bob Rasmus, Pastor, St. Matthew Lutheran

* Alan Cook, Sinai Temple Rabbi, Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County

* Koeli Goel, Board of Trustees, Hindu Temple & Cultural Society of Central Illinois

* Ricardo Diaz, Board Member, University YMCA

* Bob Kirby, ESL Program, First Presbyterian Church

* Rebekah Niblock, Attorney, The Immigration Project

* Thomas Mbongo, Community Leader, Congolese Community

* Amanda Harris, ELA Coordinator, Urbana Adult Education

* Lucia Maldonado, Board Member, C-U Immigration Forum

* Anh Ha Ho, Co-Director, East Central Illinois Refugee & Mutual Assistance Center

* Antonio Juarez, Community Leader, Mayan/Guatemalan Community


* Confirmed as NAWC Advisory Committee Member

Please note: Meetings with other community stakeholders are scheduled and additional invitations are expected to be extended in the coming weeks.

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