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Mayor's Office

New Americans

Welcome!  Bienvenido!  Soo dhowow! أهلاً و سهلاً!  Kyo tzo pa eit!

Mayor speaking at Celebration of Cultures festival“When an immigrant comes to America and considers all of the cities or towns where they could locate, and they choose to live in Nashville, that is an incredible compliment to us.”  Mayor Karl Dean

The number of foreign-born residents in Nashville has more than doubled over the past decade.  And today our city is the proud home of the nation’s largest Kurdish population, as well as growing enclaves of immigrants from Somalia, Sudan and all over the world.

Man preparing food at Cherry Blossom FestivalNearly 12 percent of Nashville’s population was born outside of the United States, and nearly half of those people are recent immigrants who entered the country since 2000.  In fact, in 2012, Nashville had the fastest-growing immigrant population of any American city.  To Mayor Dean, it is no coincidence that the increase in immigrants and refugees to Nashville has occurred at a time when the city is at its most vibrant.

Many New Americans arrive in Nashville with little more than a desire for opportunity and success.  Mayor Dean and the Metro Government have a number of initiatives to help ensure that immigrants and refugees have a chance to pursue a better life for themselves and their families.

The New Americans Advisory Council

Young women dressed in clothing that represents their cultureMayor Dean created the New Americans Advisory Council (NAAC) in 2009 to help foster a link between Nashville’s New Americans and the Metro Government.  Comprised of leaders from Nashville’s refugee and immigrant communities, NAAC has opened up a two-way line of communication and collaboration between our government and our newest citizens.  Current NAAC members hail from Kurdistan, Sudan, Peru, Nigeria and India, among other places.

NAAC members meet monthly to discuss issues relevant to the New American population and to share their thoughts with government leaders.  For more information, contact NAAC co-chair Louisa Saratora (lsaratora@cctenn.org).

MyCity Academy

MyCity photo, MLK room, Nashville Public LibraryWith the help of the New Americans Advisory Council, Mayor Dean in 2012 launched a program called MyCity Academy.  The first of its kind on the nation, MyCity empowers New Americans to understand and participate in Nashville’s government.  More than twenty countries have been represented so far among MyCity participants.

Over the course of six months, MyCity participants meet with leaders from Metro departments and tour Metro facilities.  In doing so, they gain a better understanding of how their government works and learn how to resolve issues and obtain information. 

Upon graduation, MyCity participants are able to help their communities understand and access government services.   MyCity graduates also have the opportunity to interact with New Americans from other communities through their participation in the MyCity alumni network.

The third session of MyCity Academy begins in March 2014.  Due to significant community interest, that session is full.  Individuals interested in applying for the fourth session should contact newamericans@nashville.gov to be placed on a list to receive information once applications for that session are being accepted.

MyCity Graduation 

El Protector

Police officers standing with some childrenFounded in 2004, the Metro Nashville Police Department’s (MNPD) El Protector program has been recognized as one of the six best police programs in the country when it comes to bridging the language divide.  Built in collaboration with community stakeholders, El Protector works to engage the city’s Spanish-speaking populations in the MNPD’s community-based policing efforts.  It fosters dialogue between the MNPD and the Hispanic community, and it educates community members about crime prevention and MNPD services.

Police officers standing with hispanic men in soccer uniformsAs part of the El Protector program, cell phones have been provided to volunteer civilian translators who are on call to assist police officers in the field, Hispanic clergy members have been recruited to counsel family members in cases in which Hispanic youths may have been injured, and the South Precinct has been designated as the first Hispanic National Child Passenger Safety Fitting Station in Middle Tennessee. Additionally, through their work with the El Protector program, police officers regularly appear on call-in radio shows, where they work to educate the community about MNPD operations and more. 

More information about the El Protector program can be found on the MNPD web page.