Engaging community: Rural Minnesota, USA

"Welcoming Week was amazing. The impact of those events is far-reaching: we created new partnerships, highlighted local diverse businesses, and engaged a broad audience to celebrate how wonderful life is in Winona County, as well as continue the conversation about how to create a place where everyone feels they belong." — Katie van Eijl, Program Manager at Project FINE

The Midwest has some of the strongest champions of welcoming work in the United States. Communities across Minnesota are no exception. In particular, rural communities have a lot to offer newcomers who may come from smaller communities in their home countries.

One exemplary nonprofit organization, Project FINE, is based in the rural city of Winona, Minnesota. Each year, Project FINE has grown the number and reach of events they host during Welcoming Week. In 2023, they collaborated with other community partners to host or co-host at least 15 Welcoming Week events. Over 3,100 people participated in their week-long calendar of events.

Project FINE’s work reaches more than just community members; local governments in their region support and affirm welcoming values. In 2023, the local governments of Goodview, St Charles, and Winona, MN shared official Welcoming Week proclamations following years of relationship-building and collaboration with Project FINE.

Other 2023 event highlights from Minnesota include:

  • A joint Welcoming Week and Pride Week event in St. Cloud
  • A cultural cookout in Granite Falls
  • A community mural project at a farmers market in Little Falls
  • A parade in Moorhead