One out of five residents in Aurora, Colorado is foreign born, making it one of the most diverse communities in Colorado. Aurora has embraced the diversity of its community as a strength, developing creative programs to encourage immigrants to engage in civic life.
In 2015 the city developed one of the country’s first comprehensive immigrant integration plans and recently updated the plan, “based on…what residents and stakeholder groups have cited as priorities.”
The new plan was a project of the Office of International and Immigrant Affairs, created to facilitate the successful integration of immigrants and refugees into Aurora’s civic, economic, and cultural life. The office oversees the development and implementation of a strategic citywide plan regarding policy, programs and initiatives toward the local immigrant and refugee populations, and coordinates the Aurora Immigrant and Refugee Commission, Aurora International Roundtable, Aurora Global Fest, and the Aurora International Cabinet.
The plan, titled “Aurora is open to the world,” comprises 12 primary goals:
- Promote immigrant entrepreneurship.
- Focus on housing and homeownership.
- Ensure immigrants and refugees have job skills and certifications they need to thrive.
- Expand English learning opportunities.
- Ensure city services are accessible to speakers of other languages.
- Work with the Police and Fire departments to strengthen public safety.
- Promote refugee and immigrant leadership.
- Promote preventive health care and healthy lifestyles.
- Promote international business.
- Encourage immigrants to become citizens.
- Incorporate immigrants and refugees into the cultural life of the city.
- Bringing Auroras together through sports.
Global Fest, a yearly festival celebrating the food, entertainment and crafts of international cultures and traditions, is one of the ways Aurora seeks to incorporate immigrants into the culture of the community.
Natures Helpers was featured in Aurora’s 2020 All-America City application. The program is designed to support immigrants and refugees who are new to Aurora by providing a mentor relationship between the newcomer and a community leader.
Since 2016, the Natural Helpers Program has reported spending 465 hours helping 2,198 people in Aurora, Colorado. Top areas of support and engagement include:
- Referrals for adult education services
- Citizenship and other legal support
- Assistance with accessing benefits including food stamps, Medicaid/Medicare, housing, disability issues, and social security
- Volunteering with local nonprofits, food pantries, citizenship classes and more
For additional information about Aurora’s past successes and future plans, read the complete 10-Year Immigrant Integration Plan.