Office of Mayor William Peduto
Mayor William Peduto Kicks Off Immigrant Heritage Month with Historic Ceremony and Launch of Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan
Plan Identifies Community-Led Recommendations to Build a More Welcoming Experience for Immigrants and a More Livable City for All

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 1, 2015) – Mayor William Peduto today hosted the first-ever naturalization ceremony in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, in partnership with City Council President Bruce Kraus and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez, followed by the release of the Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan, a community-driven roadmap to build a more welcoming experience for Pittsburgh’s immigrant community and a more livable city for all residents. A snapshot of the plan is available at www.welcomingpittsburgh.com. The complete plan will be available online on June 15th.

“Our best attraction strategy is how we treat, empower, and connect with our current residents, which is why I am calling today for all Pittsburghers to join me in making Pittsburgh a model city for immigrant integration. A city others will look to and see thriving diverse neighborhoods where, whether you are a second generation Italian-American, African-American, Bhutanese refugee, or Latino, you welcome your neighbor because you understand that their success is your success,” said Mayor Peduto.

Shaped with the guidance of a diverse 40-member advisory council and engaging more than 3,000 community members through multiple community meetings, focus groups, individual interviews, and public surveys, the plan is grouped into three focus areas.  

  • Welcome, Neighbor!: Building vibrant neighborhoods through the creation of civic engagement, educational advancement, and cultural exchange opportunities.
  • Bridge to the City: Improving access to government and services to be inclusive, and ensuring our City spaces are more welcoming by taking into account distinct cultural and language needs.
  • Prospering Together: Creating a ladder of opportunity for our neighbors to thrive and chart their own path in Pittsburgh – building on the strengths immigrants have historically brought to our city and continue to bring.

The release of the Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan was coordinated in conjunction with a special visit from USCIS Director Rodríguez, who co-chaired President Barack Obama’s White House Task Force on New Americans and was in attendance for the first naturalization ceremony hosted by the City. Nearly 30 community members were joined by families and friends as they became citizens.

"It is great to be back in Pittsburgh to welcome these new Americans and mark the release of Mayor Peduto’s immigrant integration plan,” said USCIS Director Rodríguez. “It is exciting to see communities across the country taking a leadership role to be at the forefront of immigrant integration efforts."

The Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan enumerates actionable strategies, specifies a timeline for implementation, and identifies preliminary partners. The City seeks to work with vital community institutions and neighborhood assets, such as the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and many others, as well as the community at large, on implementation. Short term items in the plan include piloting Welcoming Hubs at target Citiparks community centers to foster a sense of place and offer community-driven, culturally diverse programming; partnering with business and civic leaders to match executives with rising stars from our immigrant and minority communities; and launching a Municipal ID program to increase the accessibility of public services, cultural amenities, and local resources for all Pittsburghers.

“The Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan is a living document that will allow Mayor Peduto to be responsive to continuous community feedback,” said Kheir Mugwaneza, director of refugee resettlement at Northern Area Multi Service Center (NAMS), who served on the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council and will support the efforts as an appointee on one of the Mayor’s Action Teams for the initiative.

The Welcoming Pittsburgh planning process included a range of opportunities for all who live, work, or play in the city to provide feedback. Multiple channels of direct community input engaged thousands of participants, including use of a public MindMixer website, five public meetings that attracted over 300 attendees, outreach at 14 community events, and two immigrant community listening sessions. The survey will remain open throughout the year, serving as a feedback loop for the Mayor’s Office. The survey is available in five languages on www.welcomingpittsburgh.com.

In addition to the new Americans, Mayor Peduto, Director Rodríguez, and City Council President Bruce Kraus, attendees at today’s ceremony included: Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Melissa Frey, City Council Members, and Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council. Additional ceremonies will be scheduled in City Council Chamber throughout the year.

The advisory and community outreach process that shaped the Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan was made possible thanks to a grant from The Hillman Foundation.

For more information on Welcoming Pittsburgh, visit www.welcomingpittsburgh.com, follow @WelcomingPGH on Twitter or www.facebook.com/WelcomingPGH on Facebook, or contact Betty Cruz at betty.cruz@pittsburghpa.gov.

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