On June 1, 2015, Mayor William Peduto announced the Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan and kicked off Immigrant Heritage Month with a celebration of citizenship. USCIS Director León Rodríguez joined the Mayor and City Council President Bruce Kraus in an historic naturalization ceremony in City Council Chambers, welcoming nearly 30 new citizens.
The comprehensive Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan enumerates 37 recommendations and includes strategies to promote citizenship and connect Pittsburgh’s eligible legal permanent residents to relevant naturalization and community resources. Implementation is under way, with early successes in the promotion of civics and citizenship.
Building on the success of the June 1st ceremony, the Mayor will implement a regular schedule of U.S. naturalization ceremonies in City Council Chambers to honor Pittsburgh’s newest citizens, celebrate citizenship, and promote a greater awareness of welcoming resources. These ceremonies will continue the Pittsburgh tradition of opening the floor for new citizens to share their stories of immigration and naturalization. After the ceremonies, new Americans will be able to learn about city wide cultural activities and programming, sign up for a library card, register to vote, and familiarize themselves with City resources such as Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation (Citiparks), 311, and the Civic Leadership Academy.
In an effort to encourage recreation and community wellness among new Americans, Welcoming Pittsburgh will co-present a pop-up naturalization ceremony at Open Streets Pittsburgh, an event which closes off select city roads for one morning to allow residents to run, bike, walk, dance, and, in this case, celebrate citizenship in the city streets.
The City of Pittsburgh hosted its first ever Citizenship Day on June 27, 2015, convening 35 participating professionals and providing naturalization support to a dozen individuals. Mayor Peduto will continue to convene local service providers, pro bono legal resources, and financial empowerment partners for biannual Citizenship Days, “one-stop-shop” events to support individuals considering U.S. Citizenship. Pittsburgh plans to hold its second event on September 19th in observance of national Citizenship Day and National Welcoming Week 2015.
In partnership with Citiparks and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Mayor Peduto will unveil pilot Welcoming Hubs sites in late summer 2015. Hubs will build on the success of current neighborhood congregation centers by expanding community-driven and culturally appropriate programming to generate a more welcoming environment for new Americans. Programming will include extended citizenship and ESL classes, city navigation resources, neighborhood potlucks, and volunteer opportunities.