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Can America turn its back on immigrants?

Let’s start with the facts.

2X

Immigrant entrepreneurs are twice as likely to start businesses as native-born Americans.

50%+

More than half of America’s billion-dollar startups have an immigrant co-founder.

16%

of the total U.S. college-educated population was foreign-born.

Now, let’s imagine a future where cities build economies infused with entrepreneurship and purposeful, supportive inclusion; with a new business on every corner and enough jobs—and talent—to drive community growth up and the unemployment rate down.

Let’s imagine a present where we clear a path for that future, transcend political rhetoric and dampen our urges to fear people not like “us.”

Can we imagine a national conversation that’s less about “taking jobs” and more about making jobs; that’s less debate about illegal immigration and more discussion about smart immigration policy?

Because if we can come to an agreement that those who dare to pursue the American Dream are assets to our economy and to our communities, we can realize a future where America continues to lead the world as the Melting Pot of ideas, innovation, leadership, liberty and prosperity our founders designed and destined it to be.

This spirit is clearly seen in the makers, the doers and the dreamers—entrepreneurs creating American jobs; innovators and laborers furthering American competiveness. But it also lives in our schools, where the next generation of American workers—of which, nearly a third have at least one parent who speaks a language other than English at home—will chart the course for our future economy.

Right now, small towns and school districts are creating inclusive communities that are leading the way. But, it’s not easy: it’s complicated, and it takes work. But they are developing models from which they, and we, can learn.

We are a country where generations of family stories all begin the same way—with sacrifice and risk in pursuit of the American idea, transcending where the journey began. Those qualities live in our shared DNA and make us all uniquely, and proudly, American.


An American Innovator

Davyeon Ross says he defies immigration rhetoric. A serial entrepreneur, tech innovator, job creator—and foreign national—he warns against prioritizing rhetoric over economic prosperity.

Davyeon Ross

Opportunity in Columbus Junction

Victor Hwang visits Columbus Junction, Iowa, where, with community support, the small town’s Main Street has been revitalized by immigrant entrepreneurship.


An Immigrant in Kansas

Small-town life is redefined by purposeful inclusion that bolsters a tight community with jobs, new businesses and a reason to put down roots. Meet Angelica Castillo Chappel—just one of the many people who make Garden City a model for America.

Education for the Future

Hand in hand with entrepreneurship and the future of work is education—because a better educated workforce is a stronger workforce. The Kauffman Foundation aims to provide young people—regardless of race or income—the education required to pursue their dreams and become successful, productive citizens in Kansas City and beyond.

In recent years, Kansas City Public Schools has seen English Language Learners (ELL) become the fastest-growing subgroup of students. Of those students, 50 different languages are spoken; 19 percent identify as refugees. In Garden City Unified School District 457, half of the district’s students are ELL. And at Cesar E. Chavez Multicultural Academic Center, a K-8 Chicago Public School, nearly 50 percent of the student population is ELL as well. 

The critical challenges of educating immigrant children, as well as the untapped potential they represent, are shared by schools across the country, from small towns to urban centers. Views on immigration policy aside, schools have the responsibility to ensure these children are developed to their full potential.

To help close the achievement gap for ELL students, the Kauffman Foundation supported Kansas City Public Schools’ New Americans Program. The grant allowed the program to expand to cover all ELL students, kindergarten through sixth grade, creating more opportunity for all students to succeed.

The jobs both taken and created by younger generations will look different from what exists today. The job market will be revolutionized by advanced technologies and automation. We imagine inclusive education, in which all students are prepared for an uncertain future, will produce generations whose valued differences spark new innovations, invent jobs once never-dreamed-of, and create opportunities to contribute in ways that build stronger communities and a stronger economy.

ELL students share an uncommon skill: Perseverance

“If you can persevere, you’re going to be successful no matter what life throws at you—and these ELL students have that and can teach that to their English-speaking peers,” Allyson Hile, Director of Language Services, KCPS.

Between cultural differences and language barriers, getting ahead can be hard in a foreign country, but these immigrants are excelling. | By Jill Krasny

Immigrants now launch more than a quarter of U.S. businesses. All entrepreneurs should welcome reform that would make it easier for this class of strivers to stay—and succeed. | By Adam Bluestein

Fostering innovation in the 21st century is a uniquely challenging phenomenon. It’s about bringing together people and ideas. | By Yatin Mundkur


Garden City, Kansas’s blueprint for success is under pressure from domestic terrorism, and possibly from the Trump administration’s focus on immigration. | By Frank Morris

Immigration reform is a deeply controversial and contested topic, but job creation and economic growth are not. | By Steve Case

When the federal government banned the use of farmworkers from Mexico in 1964, California’s tomato growers did not enlist Americans to harvest the fragile crop. They used tomato-picking machines. | By Binyamin Appelbaum


Entrepreneurship is on the decline in America. Why Washington should make helping startups part of everything they do. | By David Jolley

This is what makes [America] so remarkable: the opportunity to reinvent yourself, to create new opportunities for your family, to transcend your status as a welcome guest to become a true equal. | By Max Levchin

We have made commitments and promises to thousands of students, including Dreamers, and we will continue to do everything we can to honor those pledges. | By Wendy Guillies