Latino Memphis invites community members to welcome diversity

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 500 business, political and community leaders gathered together to what they can do to help immigrants in the city.

Mauricio Calvo, executive director of Latino Memphis, tried to show the attendees the struggles of many immigrants today,

"Sometimes I think we hear something and it just sounds very remote," Calvo said, "so we wanted to really bring to home and put a face to that and make people aware that these things are happening."

Calvo knows that helping immigrants is good but that helping the children have access to some form of higher education will really make lasting change.

"I hear all the time that not everyone is bound for college, but we have to do better than we are doing today," Calvo said.

In the state of Tennesee only 17 percent of Latinos have some sort of post-secondary education, he said.

"We need to do better than that," Calvo said. "Why? Because our economy requires that."

Abriendo Puertas is a program by Latino Memphis that helps high school students graduate and get accepted to a college or some sort of vocational training.

Calvo's second goal was to help introduce some of the solutions that are already taking place in order to solve the problem.

Solutions like Welcoming America, which helps communities in the U.S. and around the world to reach their full potential by becoming welcoming to immigrants and refugees.

"The growth is simple, it's about welcoming being tied to prosperity," Welcoming America founder and executive director  David Lubell said.

"If a city becomes welcoming they gain, socially by cultural vibrancy, by that new energy and ideas but they also gain economically. but they also gain economically," Lubell said.

Lubell started implementing this idea in Nashville, where it grew into Welcoming America, in 2009. It now reaches over 160 cities and towns across the country.

"Nashville has attracted talent from around the world. Businesses have moved there because of that, immigrant entrepreneurs are thriving and so it's the future, " Lubell said.

One that Calvo and Latino Memphis believe is possible.