The Welcome Table


The Welcome Table

The Welcome Table creates a safe space for diverse community stakeholders to form healthy relationships via open, honest communication. Now in 18 communities in Mississippi and beyond–including a groundbreaking partnership with New Orleans, after being invited by Mayor Mitch Landrieu–the Welcome Table is the Winter Institute’s signature Community Building program. It has attracted international attention and partnerships as far away as Northern Ireland and South Africa.

Click here for our Welcome Table brochure (link opens PDF)


The Welcome Table assists partner communities to:

  • Understand the importance of listening, storytelling and relationship-building as prerequisites to producing real and measurable change
  • Understand the consequences of the systems we have inherited, in order to develop, together, community-specific initiatives to redress inequities
  • Become equipped with the communications tools to accomplish the goals stakeholders identify together to improve their communities
  • Share the process with members of their own community and other communities

An Introduction

  • The Welcome Table: An Introduction The Welcome Table: An Introduction

What Makes the Welcome Table Unique?

Many terrific organizations focus on systemic change without including relationship and trust building. As a result, their accomplishments often aren’t sustainable because community leaders refuse to continue working with those whom they do not trust.

Others focus on relationship building, but do not carry their successes into work for social justice and toward increasing the understanding of structural racism.

Relationship building and work for positive social change are the hallmarks of the Welcome Table, which bridges the divide between racial equity and racial healing.

What Have Communities Done?

Here are some examples of projects undertaken by Mississippi communities with support from the Winter Institute:

  • Public ceremonies to acknowledge painful racial histories in ways that encourage the community to learn and grow together
  • Oral history projects on the racial history of the community
  • Civil rights driving tours, memorial highways, and historic markers of significant civil rights or African American history (often done in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Freedom Trail that is part of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division)
  • After-school and summer mentoring and tutoring programs for children
  • The creation of a local “Excel by Five” program to support pre-K education of area children
  • Civil and human rights curricula in local schools that include after-school programs and oral history projects. Local student test scores have improved, as have graduation rates
  • The creation of a local integrated community choir to perform at community events
  • Scholarships for local children to enroll in previously unaffordable summer enrichment programs
  • The restoration of a significant civil rights historical landmark, which has also spurred new business in the surrounding area
  • Development of a city/county/university coalition that created affordable housing options and homeowner training
  • Playgrounds in neighborhoods that had none
  • Community gardens
  • A rural youth community center with computer labs, a library, and arts programs
  • The creation of civil rights collections in local libraries
  • Community cleanups and beautification efforts
  • The creation of a nonprofit coalition of local nonprofits on the MS Gulf Coast that works together to coordinate social justice related programs.
  • My Brother’s Keeper programming for mentoring young boys of color
  • Teachers’ summits on how to teach civil rights history and multicultural curriculum development
  • Social events such as ice creams socials and potlucks that make an effort to have large interracial social gatherings