You are here: Home / Community Assets Search / SE MN Together: Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SE Minnesota: Welcoming Week

SE MN Together: Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SE Minnesota: Welcoming Week

PlanScape Impact(s): Diversity and Inclusion ; Welcoming
Public Pinned ICI Report on SE Mn Together: A regional community growth initiative led by Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
Last modified: August 16, 2021




Welcoming week 2021, 2020 information.  Welcoming America is a non-profit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities in the United States. Rochester, MN is proud to join the over 250+ cities and organizations around the country participating in Welcoming Week 2021 - Belonging Begins With Us.




2021 Welcoming Week Information


Link to September 9 to September 19 2021 Rochester Area events.




 Add your events per this LINK.


2020 Welcoming Week Planning Info 


 Message from  Sheila Kiscaden

Welcoming America: Welcome Week September 12 - 20


Those of you who were able to join our July conference call heard from Molly Hilligoss and Brenda Johnson about Welcome Week 2020, which is an initiative of Welcoming America.  This is a national effort to do community building and to create "a chorus of thousands -- in communities large and small, rural and urban-- to celebrate the benefits of an inclusive society and deepen their commitment to create places that are welcoming to everyone, including immigrants, refugees, and other people who have been systemically excluded." 

Next Tuesday, on the recommendation of the Olmsted County Human Rights Commission, the Olmsted County Board will pass a proclamation on its consent agenda as part of Welcoming America’s effort to get communities across the country to participate in Welcome Week 2020: Creating Home Together. I believe that Mayor Norton intends to issue a City proclamation for Welcome Week in conjunction with the Intercultural Cities designation.  That will happen on September 14 and, conveniently falls during the September 12-20 Welcome Week timeframe.  

RNeighbors intends to display their Front Door Project photo array in the rotunda outside the City/County Board Chamber.  As you may know, professional photos and narratives of 80 Rochester families were taken in May and June to celebrate both our diversity and our resilience.


If your organization would want to do something as part of Welcome Week, there is still time. Welcoming America has a very useful toolkit on their website that has many templates and suggested activities that would make it fairly easy to do something, should you be interested.

One very easy thing to do would be to join the “I am a Welcomer” photo project for use on the Welcoming America social media platforms and your own personal or organization’s social media.  There are downloadable signs in many languages on the Welcoming America’s website’s toolkit for Welcome Week. You can simply choose the language, print your sign, add your name, take a selfie and post it.  We are encouraged to do this in front a sign, building or structure that identifies your community or organization.


Attached is a document I prepared to give some background on Welcoming America, Welcome Week 2020 resources, and what is planned at the moment for by Olmsted County and the Mayor of Rochester.  I have included links to several pages on their website from their toolkit to make it easier for you to access information.


SE MN Together: Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SE Minnesota

Progress has been made in some unexpected ways as SE MN Together assesses the interest and how it might help create a coalition in Southeast Minnesota of organizations and community leaders who are interested in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion by collaborating and learning together.  Here are some highlights:


  • We are very pleased and excited to have the opportunity to share a LEAD Fellow for the next two years with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). SMIF’s Pam Bishop identified this as an opportunity, and invited us to participate.  Anna Keltto, and Owatonna native who recently graduated from the University of Minnesota, has accepted this fellowship offer and will soon be available to begin assisting SE MN Together.


  • SMIF has also invited SE MN Together and the Region 9 Regional Development Council to partner with a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion grant program.   The development of this grant program is in its final stages and announcement is planned during the September 12 -20 Welcome Week.


  • SE MN Together has agreed to host three convenings of the DEI grantees with a focus on sharing experiences and learning together.  This is very consistent  and should help advance the goals and development of  a network or coalition of DEI organizations and community leaders.


In the coming weeks we will be contacting you about helping Anna Keltto gain understanding about the mission and activities of your organization. 


We will also be interested on hosting conversations about the potential value and interest in creating a regional network or coalition to advance our region’s capacity to welcome and include people of all backgrounds into our communities. We will plan another group meeting for later this fall, but feel free to let me know if you would like to meet with us individually to discuss your ideas, concerns, suggestions.


Wishing you and yours good health,



2020 Welcome Week



2020/07/14 Convening Conversation


Convening conversation



For the past five years, SE MN Together has hosted conversations and activities across our region that are focused on how our region can work together to address our workforce issues. We have focused on the issues that participants in our convenings have identified as key: diversity and inclusion, housing, transit, child care, and marketing our region. 


SE MN Together seeks to leverage our collective work to amplify the impact of our region’s workforce initiatives.  Diversity and inclusion continue to be a focus of our activities. We believe that economies and individuals thrive when all members of society are recognized and welcomed as valued contributors who are vital to the success of our communities and shared future. 

Several years ago, the cities of Winona and Austin became affiliated with the Welcoming America network, a national organization dedicated to supporting community efforts to be more welcoming and inclusive. Winona’s Project FINE, which is also an active member of SE MN Together, has found the Welcoming America organization to be a valuable resource.  Based on that experience, earlier this year, SE MN Together joined the Welcoming America network.  

We would like to have a conversation with you about how we can work together on diversity and inclusion.  During our conversation, we’ll introduce Welcoming America, and provide an overview of its approach and what communities all over the country are doing to support all residents.   Molly Hilligoss, Welcoming America Regional Coordinator will be attending our meeting to brief you and to answer your questions. If you would like to some research on the organization in advance of our meeting, you can visit their website at

 When we began planning this conversation, our focus had been on calling out the September National Welcome Week activities that Welcoming America has developed and that many communities are doing. Our broader goal is to explore opportunities and interest in supporting multi-sector inclusion work across our region.  Given the events of the last few weeks, there is an even greater need and opportunity to explore what our communities can do to welcome and include a diverse workforce.   We hope this first conversation will help set the stage for a deeper set of conversations around topics such as inclusive economic development, connected communities, civic engagement, access to services and more.


Will you join us?






1:30 Welcome and Introductions.................................... Sheila Kiscaden, SE MN Together Core Team
What is SE MN Together? Why call this meeting?............ Sheila Kiscaden
Review Intended Meeting Outcomes: ........................... Sheila Kiscaden
- Assess interest in forming a regional coalition to advance inclusion and diversity in
our communities and workforce
- Introduce Welcoming America as a resource
- Potential activities in SE Minnesota for Welcome Week 2020
- Mayor's Proclamations............................................. Brenda Johnson, SE Minn League of Municipalities
- School District Engagement
- Community Opportunities and Options
1:40 Presentations and Discussions:
Introduction to SE MN Together........................................... Sheila Kiscaden
- Who are we?
- Interest in diversity and inclusion: activities to date
- 2015-16 Regional meetings....identified diversity and inclusion
- Diversity Resource Directory
- Regional Convening on Diversity
- Membership in Welcoming America
- Assess support for regional coalition
1:50 Project FINE-- Welcoming SE Minnesota.......Fatima Said, Project FINE

2:05 Introduction to Welcoming America and its Resources..................Molly Hilligoss, Welcoming America

2:25 SMIF's Focus on Diversity and Inclusion.....................................Pam Bishop, Southern Minnesota Initiative

2:30 Open Discussion: What are your thoughts and reactions?
Would there be value, benefit, or interest in creating a regional coalition?
If so, what are our barriers or reservations?
What interest would there be in supporting Welcome Week proclamations or activities?
What should be our next steps?






Related Reports


Other SE Mn Together: A regional community growth initiative Pinned Reports

June 06, 2016 : SE MN Together aims to address job vacancies and workforce development

A 2016 SE MN Together report.

Back To Top



Pinned Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation organization and project reports


Project Report of Prosperity Initiative : August 17, 2022 : Prosperity Initiative Information

(1) About the program and August 2022 recruting  (2) 2018-07-011 Minority Business Conference hosted by SBDC, Diversity Council and Prosperity Initiative

Project Report of SE Mn Together: A regional community growth initiative : June 06, 2016 : SE MN Together aims to address job vacancies and workforce development

A 2016 SE MN Together report.

Back To Top


Site Information
  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community,'s  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. could be an interesting first step.

The following defines the various project phases:
  1. Available - a product, program or service is in production
  2. Develop - program or application is being developed
  3. Plan - idea is solid, stakeholders are identified, and there is strong commitment to go forward from all parties.
  4. Concept Phase - idea scoped out with enough details to give an early sizing and/or to build a proof of concept
  5. Pre-concept Phase - an early idea or a requirement.
Links to Beam and beam sub-sites: