WASHINGTON - Seven cities were honored today for implementing programs that enhance and promote cultural diversity in communities. The City Cultural Diversity Awards recognize municipal programs that encourage citizen involvement and show an appreciation of cultural diversity. Cities honored for 2013 are: Fort Worth, Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, Lake Worth, Florida and Hermiston, Oregon. In addition, three cities were honored as runners-up: Tempe, Arizona, Coral Gables, Florida, and District Heights, Maryland.
The City Cultural Diversity Awards program was established in 1995 by the National Black Caucus of Local Elected officials (NBC-LEO) to promote cultural diversity in community governance through citizen and community participation. Winning cities are selected from a pool of applicants and are grouped according to population.
In addition to NBC-LEO, the annual awards are co-sponsored by four other National League of Cities' (NLC) constituency groups: the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO); the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials (GLBTLO); the Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO); and Women in Municipal Government (WIMG).
Each city was honored at the Celebrate Diversity Breakfast during NLC's Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C. The Reverend Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC's 'PoliticsNation,' and Founder, National Action Network, addressed attendees at the breakfast about the importance of cultural diversity in communities.
Award-winning city programs:
In the population category over 400,001
- Winner: Movies That Matter is an initiative of the City of Fort Worth Human Relations Commission (FWHRC) intended to raise awareness and create acceptance of the diversity that exists in Fort Worth and around the world through the use of cinema. The FWHRC believes that using cinema to present difficult, emotional and sometimes divisive subject matter is a non-confrontational way to open the hearts and minds of individuals, by educating them about the issues and providing a venue for participants to dialogue with each other about actions they can undertake to make Fort Worth a more welcoming and inclusive community where human and civil rights are championed and defended. For more information, Angela Rush, Human Relations Administrator, 817-392-6155 or email@example.com.
In the population category 100,001 - 400,000:
- Winner: The Human Rights Education Project is a program operated by the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office of Diversity & Human Rights With the purpose of educating Salt Lake City's refugee and immigrant populations about their legal rights and responsibilities as residents of the City. With a broad domestic human rights focus, the Human Rights Education Project offers a comprehensive curriculum in multiple languages to assist others in understanding an often complex system crucial to integration. For more information please contact, Yolanda Francisco-Nez, Coordinator, Salt Lake City Office of Diversity and Human Rights 801-535-7734 or Yolanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Runner-Up: The "Teens Conversing to Build an Inclusive Community" program fosters community dialogues on issues of diversity while promoting civil discourse. Most importantly, the program serves as a succession plan to develop Tempe's next wave of inclusive leaders. For more information, please contact Rosa Inchausti, Diversity Director, 480-350-8999 or email@example.com.
In the population category 25,001 - 100,000:
- Winner: The City of Lake Worth is a cultural haven well known for its commitment to diversity so it was only natural that its largest community revitalization program to date embraced that diversity in its implementation and marketing efforts. In 2009, the Lake Worth NSP2 Consortium (led by the Lake Worth CRA and made up of 20 community based organizations and local companies) was awarded $23.2 million as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant authorized under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and these funds were used to purchase over 100 foreclosed and abandoned properties and provide rehabilitated or brand new housing to revitalize a culturally diverse area of the city. For more information, please contact Emily Theodossakos, Project Coordinator, 561-493-2550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Runner-up: The City of Coral Gables celebrates the diversity of its local community and reflects that diversity in its staff and leadership. The city takes pride in its commitment to recruiting women and minorities to high-level leadership and law enforcement positions, recently extended domestic partner benefits to its employees, and maintains a firm non-discrimination policy in its hiring process. For more information, please contact, Cynthia Birdsill, Economic Sustainability Director, 305-460-5310 or email@example.com or Elsa Jaramillo-Velez, Human Resources Director at 305-460-5530 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the population category less than 25,000:
- Winner: The City of Hermiston created the Hispanic Advisory Committee in June 2012 in response to the 2010 US Census figures showing that the documented Hispanic population accounts for 34.9% of the Hermiston population, and likely also includes a sizable un-documented population. This committee, which holds its regular meetings in Spanish, with English translations, acts as a fully functioning advisory board to the Hermiston City Council to create better access to the government of eastern Oregon's largest city for members of the Hispanic community. For more information, please contact: Mark Morgan, Assistant City Manager, email@example.com or 541-667-5003.
- Runner-up: The City of District Heights Family and Youth Services Center (DHFYSC) Student Mental Health and Reduced Truancy Program brings quality mental health care to culturally disadvantaged students. Our highly trained culturally diverse clinicians serve at-risk middle school students and utilize evidence based and culturally sensitive practices in efforts to promote school, home, and overall life success. For more information, please contact Kiaisha Barber, LCSW-C, Executive Director 301-336-7600.
The National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials was established in 1970. A constituency group of the National League of Cities, NBC-LEO advocates for the interests of African-American local elected officials. Its mission is to provide African-American municipal officials and their colleagues with forums to share ideas, discussion groups to develop strategies for improving municipal governance, debates on policy issues and programs that contribute to the success of America's cities and towns.
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.