The Welcoming Community initiative was adopted by Heritage Fund in 2004 as a result of community conversations highlighting the need to nurture a diverse environment where all people feel welcome.
The first Welcoming Community survey was conducted using focus groups and targeted outreach to members of the "creative class," or those individuals who can create a vibrant business climate and stimulate future economic growth. Interviews and questionnaires focused on attributes of a welcoming community, including: access to information, openness to differences, friendliness and ability to get involved, access to art and cultural activities, equal opportunity and fair treatment for all, and pride and community leadership.
The original study found that our community was perceived as welcoming by most people, but some demographic groups, including people outside of the traditional mainstream, young people and newcomers, found this was not the case. After working as a community to address the feedback received in the first survey, Heritage Fund conducted a second Welcoming Community survey in 2011 to determine if perceptions in the community had improved.
The third Welcoming Community survey was conducted in 2018 and although results showed overall improvement, it was noted Columbus as a whole is unevenly welcoming particularly as it relates to those in lower socioeconomic classes, racial and ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQIA population.