Around the country, cities large and small are finding innovative ways to weave together every strand of their community, so that every resident has a fair shot at opportunity and prosperity.
Every year at the Congressional City Conference, the Diversity Awards Breakfast celebrates cities who have demonstrated dedicated and fresh approaches to inclusive policies. This year, six cities received recognition for the 2018 City Cultural Diversity Awards.
“Cities across America are celebrating and supporting diversity and inclusion in innovative ways,” said National League of Cities (NLC) President Mark Stodola, mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas. “NLC is proud to honor six communities as pioneers that have demonstrated initiative, resourcefulness and inclusive values in their approach to governing.”
Submissions for the awards program were grouped by size and evaluated on how the program increased citizen participation in government and community activities, as well as the overall scope and impact of the program.
The six communities honored for their policies are:
50,000 and Under:
First Place: Huntington, West Virginia, “Open To All Campaign”
Huntington’s Open to All Campaign actively promotes an inclusive environment for all people in the City of Huntington by encouraging all businesses, houses of worship, civic groups and nonprofit organizations to take the “Open to All Pledge” and maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all employees, customers, visitors and vendors.
Second Place: Norristown, Pennsylvania, “Citizen’s Leadership Academy”
Norristown offers an eight-week series of classes to residents and businesses to help them develop skills community leadership skills. Graduates often go on to assume leadership roles on municipal boards, commissions and the city council.
50,001 — 200,000
First Place: Tallahassee, Florida, “Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy”
The Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy is an eight-week program that provides teens with mentorship, job readiness and career training, financial literacy education and summer employment. Eligible youth continue with six-weeks of employment opportunities to work a minimum of 20 hours weekly in a paid position. Employment is offered through the City of Tallahassee, or private organizations in the Tallahassee area.
Second Place: Jacksonville, North Carolina, “One City, Our City, My City”
Jacksonville’s One City, Our City, My City campaign was designed to promote respect, caring and collaboration between all citizens in Jacksonville and encourages them to learn about their neighbors’ cultures.
500,000 and Over
First Place: Las Vegas, Nevada, “Latino Network for Southern Nevada”
Las Vegas created the The Latino Network for Southern Nevada as a networking forum for Latino and Latina leaders, as well as community members and organizations that advocate for issues and policies beneficial to the Latino community, with the primary goal of improving education.
Second Place: Charlotte, N.C. “Partnership for Inclusive Employment and Career Excellence (P.I.E.C.E.) Project”
The purpose of Charlotte’s P.I.E.C.E. project is to address labor market shortages in the construction industry by connecting individuals who have barriers to employment with entry to mid-level opportunities in construction.
The awards program is co-sponsored by NLC’s constituency groups; five member caucuses within NLC that promote inclusive policies both nationally at the local level. To join more or learn about the work NLC’s Constituency Groups are doing, visit our website.
About the author: Meri St. Jean is a communications specialist at the National League of Cities.