Building bridges between long-term residents and immigrant newcomers

About the Project

Set against the backdrop of a shaky economy, Welcome to Shelbyville by Kim A. Snyder takes an intimate look at a Southern town as its residents — whites and blacks, Latinos and Somalis — grapple with their beliefs, their histories, and their evolving ways of life. In addition to engaging a national ecosystem of partners to conceptualize the project over the course of several years, Active Voice designed and implemented a national multimedia campaign that included VIP events, community screenings and dialogues, conference events, a character-based website, short videos for target audiences, a social media campaign, and more. Our efforts contributed to the growth of immigrant-welcoming activities around the country, and helped to build bridges in communities nationwide.


Our Work

  • Braintrusts before and during production
  • Policy premiere at the Brookings Institution
  • Partnerships with a range of national and local organizations
  • Screenings of the documentary in policy, faith-based, and community settings around the country
  • Shorter video "modules" tailored for service providers and community leaders
  • A character-driven website featuring webisodes, discussion guides, and event planning toolkits


  • Heightened visibility for Welcoming America, which led to its growth and expansion
  • Increased capacity for organizations to use storytelling as a bridge-building tool
  • Inclusion of the film in the U.S. State Department worldwide tour
  • Hundreds of community screenings around the country
  • Shifts in discourse among advocacy organizations

Key Partners

  • Welcoming America
  • BeCause Foundation
  • Unbound Philanthropy
  • Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
  • Migration Policy Institute
  • Opportunity Agenda
  • Brookings Institution
  • Church World Service
  • Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service
  • The Fledgling Fund

Film Trailer

Filmmaker Kim A. Snyder




  • Welcome to Shelbyville Discussion Guide

    This Discussion Guide provides insights into Shelbyville’s history of demographic change as well as helpful facts around immigration nationally. The guide’s facilitation questions allow audience members to explore these dynamics by walking in the shoes of local residents featured in the film, and its resource list will aid with further research and actions. Download the guide here.

  • Event Planning Toolkit

    The Event Planning Toolkit is a great step-by-step resource to help organizations and individuals that are hosting screenings and events to jumpstart community conversations and actions toward enhancing immigrant integration. Download the toolkit here.

  • "Building a Nation of Neighbors" Video Module

    “Building a Nation of Neighbors” is designed to promote community-building and harmony between native-born Americans and immigrants and refugees nationwide. Watch the video module here.

  • "Building a Nation of Neighbors" Discussion guide

    A 25-minute video module, adapted from Welcome to Shelbyville, that provides additional context on Welcoming America's welcoming model. Produced by Active Voice in association with BeCause Foundation. Download the discussion guide here.

  • "Hawo's Dinner Party" Video Module

    A half-hour video module that focuses on a former nurse from Somalia who lives in Shelbyville. Produced by Active Voice in association with BeCause Foundation, this video serves as a tool for service providers helping integrate newcomers who are dealing with considerable obstacles. Watch the video module here.

  • "Hawo's Dinner Party" Recipes and Discussion Guide

    For community-based organizations working to make communities safe, welcoming, and inclusive using the "Hawo's Dinner Party" Module. Download the guide here.

  • "Hawo's Dinner Party" Event Planning Guide

    This guide is designed to support organizations and individuals who want to use “Hawo’s Dinner Party” for impactful and successful screening events. Download the guide here.