One America - National Italian American Foundation Inter-Ethnic Affairs Institute

Program: National Italian American Foundation Inter-Ethnic Affairs Institute, Washington, D.C.
Contact(s): Elizabeth O'Connell, Director: (202) 387-0600
Purpose: To improve relations between different ethnic and racial groups by facilitating intergroup dialogue and cooperation and by providing educational programs

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Inter-Ethnic Affairs Institute was created in 1996 as a means for the NIAF to broaden its scope and increase communication and cooperation with other ethnic groups. When President Clinton announced the creation of his Initiative on Race, NIAF began organizing a coalition in order to engage Americans of all backgrounds in the effort to promote an interracial cross-cultural dialogue. Through the institute, NIAF has solidified its relationship with civil rights, social justice and ethnic organizations and is continuing its educational efforts within the Italian American community.

Program Operations

An important goal of the NIAF Inter-Ethnic Affairs Institute is the mobilization of organizations that represent traditional white ethnic groups. The institute helps these organizations form partnerships with other ethnic organizations that are working toward creating a more unified, just America. The institute's primary focus is the collection and dissemination of information regarding ethnic groups and organizations that promote inter-ethnic harmony. To facilitate this goal a network of key community leaders has been created, and a mechanism for mutual assistance and communication among these groups is being developed. NIAF has also joined two already- existing national civil rights and social justice organizations: The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the National Voices for an Inclusive 21st Century. In 1997, the institute held a conference on pluralism in the United States, designed to explore the role of ethnic organizations in ensuring that all Americans are included in the political, economic and cultural fabric of the nation. A second conference will be held in September 1998 in Boston, and similar conferences will take place in Baltimore, Detroit and Houston in 1999. In addition, in 1998 the NIAF will commission a survey on ethnic Americans' attitudes concerning issues regarding race relations. The institute also plans to create a series of public service announcements to educate the public about issues of respect for racial and ethnic diversity and cooperation. Finally, the Inter-Ethnic Affairs Institute is working with groups of students at universities around the country to facilitate dialogue among young people of diverse backgrounds.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

At the institute's 1997 conference, community leaders joined together to plan a strategy for how to involve ethnic communities in dialogue and cooperative action. The institute also sponsored two student organizations at Georgetown University, the Italian Circle and the Black Student Association, to travel together on the "Pilgrimage to Memphis," a trip to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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