New Funding Opportunity: National Inclusion Campaign Pilot Project

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Timothy Walden | June 14, 2019



June 14, 2019

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In May 2019, Welcoming America and American Immigration Council convened a number of organizations to explore how we might work together to deepen inclusion across the nation.  Participating national organizations included 4-H, American Alliance of Museums, American Association of Community Colleges, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, Feeding America, Goodwill, Interaction, More in Common, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Public Library Association, Southern Rural Development Center, The Trust for Public Land, and YMCA of the USA.  These organizations are continuing to explore their potential role in a national inclusion campaign.

Simultaneously, the campaign is beginning local level experimentation.  The national inclusion campaign pilot project is a competitive opportunity to support three local communities in testing out new collaborations and new inclusion strategies that bring together community members from different backgrounds in a spirit of a neighbor-helping-neighbor, or Do-It-Together. Pilot communities will receive a six-month, $15,000 seed grant; direct coaching and technical assistance; and national recognition for successful efforts. This opportunity is open to urban, suburban, and rural communities alike.

The pilot program is administered by Welcoming America in partnership with American Immigration Council and a growing number of other national organizations.


America is becoming an increasingly diverse nation. Yet in the current climate, many people – including new Americans  – are receiving the message that they are unwelcome and are being excluded from the fabric of communities. This not only contradicts the most basic of American values, but also threatens our economy as families, workers, and neighbors are less able to put down roots, build their lives, and invest in their communities. However, together we have an opportunity to create a far-reaching, national campaign that activates America’s welcoming spirit and moves us towards a more inclusive future.  Recognizing that it takes all of us working together to strengthen a social norm around inclusion and unleash our communities’ greatest potential, a growing number of national organizations are working together to activate their local networks through a national inclusion campaign. 

This campaign has two components, a national media campaign (the “air game”) and a local community activation campaign (the “ground game”).  The air game is being launched with the Ad Council, which has a long history of designing communications campaigns that address public issues and stimulate action.  It is anticipated that the air game will begin in April 2020.  The ground game is being coordinated by Welcoming America with support from the partners listed above. Activities and strategies employed in the ground game will build off of the equity and inclusion efforts of each of the partner organizations, bringing new energy to these programs and projects through collaboration and coordination.  By the time the air game launches, ground game partners and their networks will have a significant ground game in place, so that as public awareness builds around the inclusion imperative, there is a clear call to action and corresponding local activities are bringing people together across difference to help cement new attitudes and behaviors.  The air game and ground game together will help advance an America that works together across lines of difference, promoting greater social connection and cohesion.

As we prepare for the creation of a robust 2020 ground game, national partners are now seeking to identify three local pilot communities to test out new collaborations and new inclusion strategies so that we can learn more about which approaches show most promise and how to best support them.  Welcoming America is able to make funding available to local pilots through a grant from the Walmart Foundation.  Pilots will bring residents together to engage in activities that rebuild community and strengthen relationships between neighbors in ways that foster a stronger sense of belonging for all.  Instead of a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) campaign this is a DIT (Do-It-Together) campaign. Does the local playground need an upgrade? Does the local retirement home need painting? Pilots will design a project, identify the partners, and bring their constituents together (across racial, ethnic, religious, etc. difference) to Do-It-Together.  Imagine what is possible once Do-It-Together is truly brought to scale.

Support Offered

Successful pilots will receive five levels of support:

  1. Grants.  Each site will be eligible for a six-month grant of $15,000 to support activities that bring together people from different backgrounds in their community to Do It Together.  It’s expected that many of these activities will occur during Welcoming Week, September 13-22, when many communities in Welcoming America’s Welcoming Network and beyond host bridge building activities that bring people together across lines of difference. 
  2. Coaching and Technical Assistance.  Each pilot will be eligible to receive up to 8 hours of individualized coaching and technical assistance to support their project.  Each pilot will have one lead coach to help ensure their technical assistance needs are fully met.  Coaches from Welcoming America will provide regular telephone consultations and in-person visits to help pilots meet their goals, identify learning from the pilot, and can help connect them back to national partners as appropriate.
  3. National Recognition.  The national partners will work with each site to lift up their participation in the pilot program and continue to work to showcase them as leaders in the field of inclusion.  Pilot communities will receive extra consideration in the next phase of the ground game implementation in 2020.
  4. Peer Learning. Pilot communities will be provided the opportunity to connect with and learn from each other.  They can also be connected to additional communities throughout Welcoming America’s 200+ member network that are working in related contexts.
  5. Participation in Welcoming America’s Welcoming Network. The lead institution for each pilot site will be eligible for Premium level membership in the Welcoming Network (valued at $2,500)[1]. Membership benefits include access to training, technical assistance, and peer exchange opportunities including two free registrations to Welcoming America’s annual conference. More on premium membership can be found at

Campaign Timeline

June 14:                       Release of National Inclusion Campaign Pilot Project RFP

July 2:                          Applicant briefing webinar, 1:00-2:00 Eastern Time

July 18:                        Proposals are due to Welcoming America by 5:00 p.m. EDT

August 1:                     Pilot sites are announced and coaching begins

August -October:        Pilots implement shared activities

September 13:            Welcoming Week begins

November:                  Welcoming America captures lessons learned from pilots and national inclusion campaign partners prepare for larger roll-out

December/January:    Finalize planning for larger scale roll-out of ground game and begin phase two implementation

April 2020:                  Ad Council campaign launches

Pilot Site Expectations

Proposals for pilot site grants should include the following:

  1. Collaboration between two or more local organizations that represent key community institutions, such as a Welcoming Network member, local library, local museum, community college, etc. The organizations applying should work together to design, implement, and learn from new activities that bring together people across lines of difference. 
  2. Activities or events designed to connect community members of different backgrounds in a spirit of neighbor-helping-neighbor.  Applicants must have the ability to bring together the rich diversity of the community by partnering with immigrant-based organizations, and by working with leaders and institutions that have the trust of the residents to be mobilized. This includes engaging immigrants, long-term community members who may have less exposure to diverse residents, and others in activity planning and participation.  Proposals should explain how a Do-It-Together approach will help activate the community. Preference will be given to innovative ideas that expand upon traditional contact building strategies. (See the reading list below for more background on contact building work).
  3. An innovation in approach or audience. Preference will be given to pilot proposals that support creative approaches to contact building activities and/or the involvement of groups traditionally not engaged in community building work.

Proposal Review Criteria

  • Evidence of a strong, healthy, and motivated collaboration between local organizations that represent a diversity of national partner affiliates
  • Track record of working to advance inclusion in the community
  • Proposed activities that show promise to bring in those who have not been engaged in meaningful contact but could be mobilized with the right opportunity
  • Evidence of being able to outreach to and engage a diverse set of residents across race, socioeconomics, country of origin, etc.
  • A promising set of activities that are bringing people together in new ways, in a Do-It-Together spirit, to improve community life.

Application Process

This request solicits proposals from local collaborations that are led by a local government or local nonprofit 501c(3) organization. National organizations are ineligible to apply.

A webinar to address Frequently Asked Questions will be held on Tuesday, July 2 from

1-2pm EST. To register, please click here (or copy and paste into your web browser). This webinar will be recorded and will be made available upon request for those unable to join.

Proposals are due by Thursday, July 18 at 5pm EDT to [email protected] 

All communities will be notified of the selection committee’s decision by August 1, 2019.

Proposal Questions – Three page maximum for narrative and budget; five additional pages allowed for letters of support; 12-point font

  1. Identify the lead agency, including:

• Organization Name

• Contact person and title

• Address

• Phone, e-mail and website address

• Tax-exempt status

  1. Who are the collaborating partners on the project?  List names, titles, and any community or organizational affiliations.  Provide a brief description on why each local partner is involved, their role in the project, and if they have worked together before.
  2. Identify the geographic boundaries of the pilot and a demographic snapshot.  Why is this pilot important to this community?  What do you hope to accomplish? How is this different than previous efforts?
  3. Describe the activity or activities you hope to implement through the pilot.  Who are the audiences you will engage?  How will you ensure their participation in your activities? What do you see as innovative or creative about this project?
  4. Include a line item budget for the $15,000 request and brief description of proposed expenditures.
  5. Provide up to five letters of support from participating local partners.

Submission Requirements

Proposals should be sent electronically in one pdf document that includes all letters of support.  Email proposals to: [email protected] by the July 18, 5pm EDT deadline.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to ask questions during the July 2 webinar.  After July 2, questions about the RFP can be sent to [email protected]. For those unable to attend on July 2, a webinar recording will be made available upon request to the above email.

More Research and Reading

The pilot’s approach is grounded in social contact theory, which suggests:

  • Those exposed to individuals outside of their social group tend to have more favorable views of each other after meaningful contact.
  • Interpersonal contact reduces misperceptions by helping people understand and build relationships with those who are different than they are. More exposure leads to greater acceptance and the embracing of differences over time.
  • Contact works best when people have equal status (everyone is contributing and learning as equals); are working towards common goals (not competing with each other, such as when they are on competing sports teams); and have the opportunity for personal interaction.
  • Designing activities that engage people across difference takes serious intentionality and extra time in order to reach those who don’t typically participate but might benefit most from these opportunities.

The following readings provide additional background:

Innovations in Building Meaningful Contact Across Difference showcases innovative models and provides a series of recommendations for making contact building activities more effective and expansive. 

Building Meaningful Contact: A How To Guide shares lessons learned in contact building and showcases one promising methodology from Macomb County, Michigan.

Building Cohesive Communities in an Era of Migration and Change explores the nature of today’s divides, approaches for overcoming them, and recommendations for advancing social cohesion.


Welcoming America

Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities across the nation that are becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feels like they belong. Through a membership network of 200 local governments and nonprofits spanning 500 communities, Welcoming America connects and supports communities to develop plans, programs, and policies that overcome the fears that demographic change can bring and transform neighborhoods into vibrant places where people respect each other and everyone’s talents are valued and cultivated.

American Immigration Council

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council also does work to advance positive public attitudes and create a more welcoming America. For more information visit

The ground game is funded by the Walmart Foundation.

[1] Organizations already part of the Welcoming Network will either be eligible to upgrade to premium membership from their current membership level or apply the free membership to their 2020 network dues.

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