Despite the United States’ long history of immigration, large and small communities around the country struggle to integrate newcomers into the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres of society. Utilizing results from the program evaluation of one public library’s Cultural Navigator Program (CNP), the authors illustrate how communities and public institutions can promote integration and relationship building between newly arrived immigrants and long-time residents. Existing social networks, conceptualized in this article as social capital, within receiving communities were leveraged to build capacity among newly arrived immigrants and foster inclusivity and integration at the community level. As a place of intervention, public libraries are suggested as a safe and shared space where community integration can be fostered. The program model is provided as an approach to immigrant community integration. Insights derived from the evaluation inform a discussion on engaging approaches to immigrant integration. The CNP utilized community networks to deliberately and systematically facilitate integration and relationship building between newly arrived immigrants and community members. Lessons learned and recommendations for program evaluators and administrators are provided.
Evaluation and Program Planning
Thomas, R. L., Chiarelli-Helminiak, C. M., Ferraj, B., & Barrette, K. (2016). Building relationships and facilitating immigrant community integration: An evaluation of a Cultural Navigator Program. Evaluation and Program Planning, 55, 77-84. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2015.11.003