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Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives in Workforce and Economic Development, Civic Education, Refugee Resettlement and Language Instruction Honored with Prestigious National Award
Press Release
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives in Workforce and Economic Development, Civic Education, Refugee Resettlement and Language Instruction Honored with Prestigious National Award

WASHINGTON — The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday announced the four winners of its 2011 E Pluribus Unum Prizes for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, honoring an Hispanic economic development initiative in Kansas City, a refugee resettlement agency in San Diego, a Philadelphia-based organization with affiliates across U.S. college campuses that match student volunteers with immigrant elders and a San Francisco-based program with centers in nine cities that helps foreign-trained professionals rejoin the health care field at their skill level.

The E Pluribus Unum winners, each given a $50,000 award, reflect the diversity of actors in the public and private sectors that are involved in immigrant integration efforts at the state and local levels. The winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. at which U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will provide the keynote address.

The prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy with generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to encourage the adoption of effective integration practices and to inspire others to take on the important work of integrating immigrants and their children so they can become full participants in U.S. society.

The E Pluribus Unum winners (click on links for more detail about each initiative) are:

  • Hispanic Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City: Founded in 1993, HEDC helps immigrant entrepreneurs in Kansas City realize their business potential through bilingual business development training and a business incubator program. HEDC, which has assisted in the start-up and growth of more than 1,100 new immigrant businesses, is helping bring new economic vitality to once-languishing areas of Kansas City, business by business.
  • The International Rescue Committee in San Diego: One of 22 U.S. branches of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the IRC in San Diego assists more than 1,100 refugees from around the world each year, helping them successfully resettle and become self-sufficient, productive members of the community. The IRC in San Diego provides the refugees assistance in opening businesses and obtaining jobs, access to credit-building loans, English literacy and citizenship instruction, financial literacy courses and even access to urban farming. Crucially, these programs are also open to the broader community, with the IRC in San Diego assisting another 5,000 community members each year.
  • Project SHINE – Philadelphia: From its inception at Temple University’s Intergenerational Center in 1997, Project SHINE (Students Helping In the Naturalization of Elders) has trained nearly 10,000 college students to work with elderly immigrants and refugees, helping integrate more than 40,000 members of this often overlooked immigrant population more fully into American society. Project SHINE is now active on 19 campuses and one non-profit in nine states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas, and also partners with immigrant communities and local health/aging networks. Through Project SHINE, student volunteers are trained to tutor immigrant and refugee seniors in English language and civics education, helping many prepare for taking their citizenship exam.
  • The Welcome Back Initiative – San Francisco: Based in San Francisco with nine centers across the United States, the Welcome Back Initiative has worked with more than 11,000 foreign-trained immigrant health professionals to help them return to the health care workforce at their skill level. Created in 2001, WBI helps these doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and other health professionals get licensed and credentialed in the United States by providing them with orientation and pathways to the education and professional English language training they need to successfully rejoin the health care field. Through partnerships with colleges, community groups and local governments, the WBI model has been replicated in Boston, Denver, New York, Providence (RI), San Diego, San Antonio, the Seattle area and suburban Washington, D.C.

This year, for the first time, the E Pluribus Unum Prizes also presented a Corporate Leadership Award.

Marriott International received the Corporate Leadership Award for its innovative Global Language Learning initiative, which makes language learning available throughout its 106,000-person U.S. workforce, from entry-level occupations to the managerial ranks. More than 10 percent of Marriott’s workforce has taken advantage of language programs that are based on readily available technologies and instruction. The company-sponsored programs help immigrant workers learn English and U.S.-born staffers become proficient in foreign languages.

“Many countries marvel at the ability of the United States to take immigrants and their children from all across the globe and make them into full Americans,” said Margie McHugh, co-director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “The E Pluribus Unum Prizes pull back the curtain and shine a spotlight on the reasons for our country’s enviable success in immigrant integration – one is the energy and dedication of the literally thousands of programs that, like our extraordinary Prize winners, work tirelessly to help immigrants build a new life. And the other is the powerful hopes and aspirations of immigrants themselves that flow into local communities and economies across the U.S., and ultimately help create a stronger, more vibrant America.” 

“The success of immigration turns on how well immigrants become full participants in the economic and civic life of the United States,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, who is co-director of the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “Our award winners demonstrate daily through proven and replicable programs how volunteer networks, public-private partnerships and thoughtful public policies can promote the success of newcomers, their families and the broader U.S. community.”

Profiles, videos and more information about the honorees can be found at www.integrationawards.org.

For more information, or to set up interviews with award winners, please contact Michelle Mittelstadt at 202-266-1910 or [email protected]; or Burke Speaker at 202-266-1920 or [email protected].


The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit: www.migrationpolicy.org.