On November 7, 2023, the City of Champaign hosted a reception to celebrate that it had been recognized as a Certified Welcoming place by Welcoming America, becoming the only municipality in Illinois to achieve this distinction. The celebratory event was free, with cultural performances and refreshments available. Nearly 100 staff, community partners and members of the public were in attendance. Following the celebration, a representative from Welcoming America presented the certification to the City during the City Council meeting. In 2022, Champaign participated in Welcoming America’s comprehensive evaluation process and is now one of 20 other municipalities in the United States who have earned the Certified Welcoming designation.
Certified Welcoming is a formal designation by Welcoming America for cities and counties that have created policies and programs that reflect their values and commitment to immigrant inclusion and belonging. The program assesses local governments against the Welcoming Standard on their efforts to include and welcome immigrants in all areas of civic, social, and economic life in their communities. With a Certified Welcoming designation, communities celebrate their local inclusivity efforts, build a competitive advantage, and gain new opportunities to share their welcoming practices with others on a regional, national, and global stage.