Immigrant Leadership Institute

The goal of the Immigrant Leadership Institute is to prepare foreign born residents of Greater Philadelphia with the skills, knowledge, and tools necessary to engage in the civic life of our city and region. While recognizing the important economic and cultural contributions immigrants make to our social fabric, the Institute represents a dynamic approach to creating opportunities where immigrants speak for themselves and participate in the cultural, political, and social life of the city. We believe that our city grows stronger when all residents are given the opportunity to engage. Thus, increasing the substantive participation of immigrant communities in the decision-making processes of our city is crucial.


What do participants learn?


Why and how civic participation is a success strategy for immigrants

New skills, knowledge, and tools immigrants can use to support their community

What citizenship means for new citizens and how to participate in public decision-making

How to use communication skills and innovative technology in the practice of true citizenship

What’s included in the training?


Ten preliminary training sessions will be offered every other week for a period of five months. An important part of the curriculum is focused on learning about issues of interest to immigrants and developing skills for implementing of an action project to address community needs.



Sessions​ ​1 &​ ​2:​ ​Immigrant​ ​Leadership

During the first two sessions we will learn about grassroots immigrant leadership by mapping community strengths and taking a closer look at  existing leadership gaps in immigrant communities. We will also discuss leadership qualities and the connection between values and action, relationship building and power, and what can be done to increase civic participation among immigrant communities in our city.


Sessions​ ​3 &​ ​4:​ ​Immigrant​ ​Integration​ ​Strategies

We will do an overview of Immigrant Integration strategies, including economic development, citizenship, and civic participation. We will review the historical concept of citizenship, the current naturalization process, why engaging immigrants is important and the need for transparency in participatory democracy. We will also examine the impact specific social connectivity mechanisms can have on the health and wellbeing of individuals.


Sessions​ ​5 & ​6:​ ​Communication​ ​Skills​ ​and​ ​Technology

In these sessions we focus on learning specific communications skills that enable immigrants to speak intelligently about immigration. We will focus first on understanding the basic tenets of communication and then discuss what is messaging, how to work with the media and social media, and how to utilize innovative technology to get our message across. We will also learn about ways to promote civic participation and mobilize immigrant communities.


Sessions​ ​7 &​ ​8:​ ​Promoting​ ​Change

After learning about basic principles and practices of civic participation, these sessions will focus on how to use information about issues affecting immigrant communities, what policies are in place that make our cities welcoming places for immigrants and what policies are missing. Approaching the question of change by first looking at the strengths in our communities, these sessions will surface specific information about existing concerns and how partnerships can be negotiated to promote change.


Sessions​ ​9,​ ​10:​ ​Action​ ​Projects​ ​Results,​ ​Evaluation,​ ​and​ ​Next​ ​Steps

During the last sessions we will concentrate on understanding the critical role of evaluation and on reviewing the results of action projects implemented by the participants, reflecting on lessons learned throughout the program and developing some tangible next steps for continued engagement and  commitment. We conclude the course with a public graduation ceremony to honor the efforts of the participants and their supporters, and in recognition of the trainers, allies, and partners of the program.

What Are Action Projects?


This training course requires participants to develop an Action Project on one of the barriers immigrants face, such as insufficient supply of ESL classes, developing social connectivity and social capital, acculturation, understanding constitutional rights and responsibilities, and information and trust around naturalization.

Action Projects offer an opportunity for participants to test newly acquired skills, build relationships, familiarize themselves with Philadelphia, and most importantly, do something to support immigrant communities in the city.

Each Action Project is implemented by a team of 5-6 participants and on average, the implementation of each project can take between 3-4 months to complete.

Check out our featured action project!

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