Welcoming Fort Wayne Launches Community Plan to Improve Immigrant Inclusion

Fort Wayne, IN (January 23) – Amani Family Services in partnership with Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and Downtown Fort Wayne launched the Welcoming Fort Wayne Plan this afternoon at the Allen County Public Library-Main.

The Welcoming Fort Wayne Plan is the result of participating in the Gateways for Growth Initiative, in which Amani, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and Downtown Fort Wayne received funding in January 2023 to work with technical advisors and local consultants to gather the latest impact data available on immigrants and refugees living and working in Fort Wayne-Allen County.

Briana Broberg, Midwest Regional Manager for Welcoming America, Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters and Stephanie Crandall, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Fort Wayne, made remarks during the announcement. Crandall, on behalf of Mayor Henry, said that the city will be in support of the next phases of the plan which include pursuing a Certified Welcoming designation through Welcoming America. The requirements for certification are considered to be the standard of excellence in creating culturally inclusive communities.

“We are a community that prioritizes quality of place and belonging for all,” said Amani CEO Ewelina Connolly. “We are a community that understands that true welcoming requires intentional and collective work to translate welcoming attitudes into actions, policies and networks, and in doing so, we continue to trail blaze and set peace for the rest of our state. Today, we are proud to share that after a yearlong process of collecting and analyzing data, learning from the voices of our community members, and engaging in strategic conversations with top community leaders and champions across industries, we are now ready to share what we believe needs to become a blueprint of welcoming for our community.”

The document outlines goals, recommendations and strategies needed to create more equitable access in four focus areas: Connected Communities and Public Safety, Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, Civic Engagement, and Education. The next phase of the plan will be aligning committed stakeholders to the implementation of action items and receiving a formal Certified Welcoming designation.

To learn more about the plan, go to www.amanifamilyservices.org. The plan can be downloaded from Amani’s homepage.

Amani would like the following funders for the ongoing support: St. Joseph Community Health Foundation investing grant match dollars to support the Gateways for Growth collaboration; the James Foundation and Old National Bank for their early investment into the Welcoming Fort Wayne initiative; Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne for investing in the future of Welcoming Fort Wayne. This past fall, the foundation awarded Welcoming Fort Wayne a $200,000 multi-year grant to support the deployment of Welcoming Fort Wayne Plan. This grant was made possible through the Richard D. Waterfield Charitable Fund and the Richard Dallas & Marni McKinney Waterfield Charitable Fund.

A special thank you to Greater Fort Wayne Inc., Downtown Fort Wayne and the supporting organizations who have participated in the Gateways for Growth Steering Committee.