GF Immigrant Integration

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Welcoming Community Grand Forks Logo 

Welcoming Community



Welcoming Community Roadmap Report Cover

Welcoming Community Report - Read it here!


Please take some time to read through these recommendations that were compiled by more than 60 individuals, representing more than 30 organizations and individuals who made up the four workgroups:  

1. Access to Basic Services 2. Advancement Opportunities 3. Economic Opportunities 4. Connected Communities

Further background on the extensive Welcoming Community Roadmap process: 

Survey Results

Focus Group Findings

Workgroup Kickoff Presentation

Workgroup Packet - Background

Data Report


SURVEY: The Welcoming Community Roadmap survey has closed, as of May 4, 2018.

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!                                         

City of Grand Forks receives technical assistance grant from Welcoming America and Partnership for a New American Economy to help develop a strategic plan to leverage existing strengths and build an even more robust and integrated welcoming community.

The Welcoming Community Roadmap project is part of a continued effort by the city of Grand Forks to find ways to welcome all new residents and better integrate immigrants and refugees as part of the community. The integration initiatives being investigated in this project are adopted from the key focus areas of the Welcoming America program, Gateways for Growth.

The project will be carried out by gathering a demographic report and conducting surveys and focus group discussions with members of immigrants/refugees and other residents in the community. The data gathered will be carefully analyzed and presented in a final report of the project findings. The project final report will become a basis for developing strategic action plans, in concert with city elected and administrative leadership and community leaders to make the Grand Forks area the most welcoming community possible.


What is the goal of GFIII Welcoming Community Roadmap Initiative and what steps are involved?

We aim to develop a roadmap to make the Grand Forks area an even more welcoming community in which all residents are engaged. Through demographic research, surveys, focus groups, and community discussion, our community will craft a plan to help Grand Forks feel like home to newcomers and long-term residents alike.

Why are you doing these surveys and focus groups?

We are asking the community to share their feedback so our community plan reflects the experiences of all our residents. The surveys and focus groups will inform recommendations for policies, programs, and practices that will allow all residents to access services and participate civically.

Who will be participating in the survey?

All members of the Grand Forks community are encouraged to participate in the survey.

How long will the survey be open?

They will be open until May 4.

What happens after the survey?

There will be focus groups to dive deeper into specific topics, draft recommendations developed by workgroups, public discussions held on the draft recommendations and then final recommendations for the Welcoming Community Roadmap expected to be presented in September 2018.

Who will be participating in the focus groups?

We will invite select groups of newcomers as well as long-term residents of the Grand Forks community, primarily based on the preliminary information that comes from the surveys. The focus groups allow us to dig deeper on specific questions.  

Where can I locate findings from the demographic report, survey, and focus group?

All reports related to the Welcoming Community Roadmap will be publicly accessible and posted to

Who is leading this and funding it?

The City’s Grand Forks Immigrant Integration Initiative is leading and it is being administered by volunteers and staff from the Mayor’s Office. While there is no funding allocated, the City is receiving technical assistance and support from Gateways for Growth. 

Where did the demographic results come from?

The demographic report, New Americans in the Grand Forks Region, Grand Forks being one of 44 communities selected for the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity for local communities to receive technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants. The research focused on demographics and the economic impacts of immigrants in our community and is available on

Data Driven Approach

A good place to start is a firm foundation of data on immigration and resettlement in the area. Welcoming America and New American Economy have collaborated to research the impact of immigration in the Grand Forks area (report, below).

This is a starting point as the community begins listening sessions, surveys and focus groups to identify key tactics in enhancing the capabilities and reputation of Grand Forks as a Welcoming Community.

STUDY: New Americans in the Grand Forks Region

Immigrant Integration Demographic 2

Strategic Plan Timeline (Proposed)

Dec, 2017 – Feb, 2018        Data analysis      (New American Economy)

Jan 2018                              Steering Committee Established

Feb 2018                              Data Report Completed and Shared

Feb – Mar, 2018                   Steering Committee Strategy Development

Apr – May, 2018                   Focus groups, surveys, listening sessions

May - Jun, 2018                    Analyze Data and formulate Working Group Categories

Jul – Aug 15, 2018               Working Groups develop draft recommendations

Aug, 2018                             Draft Welcoming Community Plan Recommendations Reviewed

Aug – Sep, 2018                   Community feedback on Draft Plan

Sep 8, 2018                         Final Plan Adoption and Launch at Community Picnic


Immigrant Integration Demographic 3



The City of Grand Forks is the proud home to many new immigrants and refugees who come to our great city to begin new lives, families and opportunities. Together, our existing and new residents create the tapestry that help define our community, and together we create a “Welcoming Grand Forks”.

Immigrant Integration Demographic 1


Grand Forks Immigrant Integration

The Grand Forks Immigrant Integration was established by the City of Grand Forks Mayor’s Office and City Council with a steering committee of members from throughout the broad greater Grand Forks area.

The Initiative was a Member of the National League of Cities Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration.

The goal of Grand Forks Immigrant Integration Initiative is to promote naturalization and civic engagement among immigrant populations in our communities, to assess and align community resources to best serve both the New American population and general community, and to assist New Americans with becoming engaged citizens.


Other GFIII Efforts include:

  • Partnered efforts and leveraged resources with community organizations including Global Friends Coalition, New American Services of Lutheran Social Services of ND.
  • Citizen's Academy to help promote informed and involved citizenship.
  • Speaker’s Bureau to enhance community awareness on general and specific immigrant and refugee related.
  • A Community Resource Officer from the Grand Forks Police Department designated as a direct liaison with immigrant populations.
  • Citizenship and naturalization campaign.
  • Agency communication and coordination.
  • Immigrant training opportunities.
  • Ongoing communication and evaluation of community capacities to achieve the GFIII goals.


gfcoalition logo with dblue        LSS of ND200x200logo



 2017 World Refugee Day

 Welcome to the United States of America, and welcome to Grand Forks, your new home! - Text of City Council Member Remarks
 White House Task Force on New Americans Award 2016  Grand Forks was awarded a White House task Force on New Americans - Building Welcoming Communities - campaign award for its 'dedication and commitment to the principles of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, . . ."
Immigrant Integration recognition 10-2-14_Page_1 

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs & the American Immigration Council published a report praising Grand Forks for our Immigration Integration efforts.  Check out this news release for more information.



Thanks to the leadership of Grand Forks Public Health and the partnership of several local organizations, there is now a list of available interpreters for various languages and purposes.


2011 Citizens' Academy Curriculum with Global Friends Coalition

2011 "Let's Talk - Immigrants, Refugees and Grand Forks" Flyer

2016 Welcoming Cities Project Agreement


Dilli at State of City - cropped 

Pictured from left: Goma Oli, Mayor Michael R. Brown, Dilli Oli at the 2014 State of the City Address 

According to Dilli Oli, who came to Grand Forks in 2008 after having lived in a refugee camp in Nepal for almost twenty years, the Civics Academy that he participated in through Global Friends Coalition in 2011 was a big help. He said he "got a chance to learn more things about  the community, for example, the role of the police and the fire department."  He also learned about public library services, other social services available in Grand Forks, how to find a job, buy a house, and information about City Council. It helped him know "how to connect to the people of Grand Forks."  Dilli said it was like getting "wheels on a car. If a car has no wheels, it can't run. I felt like I gained wheels."




Grand Forks Immigration Integration Initiative

The city has established the Grand Forks Immigrant Integration Initiative as a collaborative, cross-sectional body with three goals:

  1. To promote naturalization and civic engagement among immigrant populations in our communities.
  2. To assess and align community resources to best serve both the New American population and general community.
  3. To assist New Americans with becoming engaged citizens by being prepared to capitalize on opportunities for productive employment, meaningful education, strong family support and positive community and social interactions. 

    Asylum Claims
    Graph from UN Refugee Agency, Asylum Trends, First half 2014 


Steering Committee - Individual and Community Partners

Co-Chair - Robin David, Global Friends/UND Honors
Co-Chair - Saido Ahmed, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota

Grand Forks County Elected Official
Police Department
Grand Forks Public Schools
United Way
Global Friends Coalition (Link)
New American Services (LSS) (Link)
Public Health
County Social Services
Economic Development Corporation 


University of North Dakota
Altru Health System
GF Housing Authority
Banking Institutions
The Chamber of GF & EGF
Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC)
East Grand Forks
Northland Community Technical College
African Community Partners
Job Service
GF Air Force Base
Immigrant and Refugee Citizens




Speakers Bureau

The GFIII Speakers Bureau Program will provide access to speakers knowledgeable about refugees and immigration. The GFIII seeks to enhance community awareness and understanding of refugees and immigrants. The Speakers Bureau will foster and open community conversation on "Refugees, Immigrants and Grand Forks" and encourage the community to be welcoming to all people and embrace a common idea of a "Welcoming Grand Forks."

To Schedule Your Presentation Contact:
Diane Stanislowski
Grand Forks Mayor's Office

Feb 15, 2018 Agenda 

GFIII July 22 Notes 

Grand Forks Immigrant Integration Initiative NOTES Dec 3, 2015 


GF Immirant Integration Initiative Notes 8-21-2014_Page_1
Meeting Notes
Grand Forks Immigration Integration
Steering Committee 8/21/14


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