Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Nashville role in national integration initiative has lessons for state, federal policy

Nashville was one of three cities involved in the ground-breaking Building the New American Community (BNAC) Initiative, led by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures and conducted from 2001 to 2004. The final report was completed in December 2004 and is available in full here or as an executive summary here.

"According to the report, 'The BNAC Initiative highlights the range of social and economic conditions that influence integration opportunities across the country. If the federal government is to embark on a broad integration program, one of the most salient lessons to be drawn from the BNAC experiment is how the 'uneven geography' of refugee and immigrant settlement, as well as the availability and quality of resources within each city, requires innovation in integration policy development and delivery.'"

"Nashville addressed challenges facing foreign-trained professionals in gaining U.S. certification both through a taskforce that catalogued barriers and by bringing the issue to the attention of state legislators and governor's staff. ... A 'Board Bank' initiative [in Nashville] prepared refugee and immigrant leaders to become full and effective participants on boards and commissions of local government institutions and non-profit organizations."

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