What is a sister city relationship?

A sister city relationship establishes a long-term, cooperative relationship with a city in another country with similar demographics as well as cultural, educational, business and technical characteristics and opportunities for alignment. The relationship is formalized when two mayors or elected city leaders sign a memorandum of understanding establishing a sister city relationship. Activities are guided by liaisons who lead the sister city organization and activities are organized and implemented by volunteers, nonprofit agencies, businesses, and governmental agencies. A city may have any number of sister cities.

What do sister cities do?

Sister city organizations plan and implement cooperative activities and exchanges in cultural, educational, municipal/ technical, business and humanitarian fields.  Nationally, THOUSANDS of inbound and outbound exchanges take place every year, as well as virtual exchanges and other remote, cooperative exchanges.

What are the benefits of sister cities organizations?

Sister cities organizations offer the following benefits:

  • Improved community relations and civic engagement (Minneapolis, Aurora)
  • Boost for tourism through exchanges, missions, cultural activities, conferences (Denver, Fort Worth)
  • Established and meaningful ties to other cities which could lead to valuable and profitable business relations (Fort Worth, Chicago, San Antonio, Miami Dade County)
  • Improved cultural competency education opportunities for businesses (Indianapolis)
  • Conduit for corporate social responsibility (Denver)
  • Improved arts and culture offerings throughout the city and region (All)

What does Aurora Sister Cities International do?

Aurora Sister Cities International (ASCI) is a nonprofit organization that engages a multitude of partners, sponsors, and volunteers to help the city of Aurora, Colorado with its internationalization efforts. On a municipal level, ASCI seeks out partner cities for the city of Aurora and drives projects related to those relationships. On a grassroots level, ASCI recruits a dedicated, culturally competent corps of volunteers, called citizen diplomats, to support and lead the various sister city-related initiatives.

Initiatives aimed at promoting Aurora as a global city may include cultural, educational, library or municipal exchanges; international festivals or other various activities aimed at highlighting Aurora’s diaspora communities; fundraising for—or development assistance to—our global partner cities; or creation of an international business network which can help Aurora businesses expand abroad.

Ultimately, Aurora Sister Cities International aims to bring communities closer together and build economic growth, development and multicultural awareness both at home and abroad.

How do two cities become sister cities?

A relationship is formally created when the mayors or highest elected officials from two communities sign a memorandum of understanding establishing the sister city partnership. The relationships are sometimes initiated by Aurora Sister Cities International, sometimes in response to a request from a demographically similar city abroad, and also often initiates organically based on a developing beneficial business or cooperative relationship between a local company or organization and their partners overseas. Other factors include mayoral relationships, trade relationships, historical connections, ancestral connections, expatriate communities, shared geographic or sector challenges, faith-based connections, and personal experiences ranging from study abroad to trans-national marriages.

Who runs Aurora Sister Cities International and how is it structured?

Aurora Sister Cities International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by CEO Karlyn Shorb, who has a rich history of nonprofit leadership, cooperation, and consensus-building across a wide variety of cultural and community organizations. Currently operating with several partners, including the City of Aurora, Aurora Sister Cities International also enjoys the funding and significant support of several cooperative agencies in the city including the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the Community College of Aurora, and Visit Aurora. Aurora Sister Cities International is governed by a board of directors, and the majority of activities are planned and executed by volunteers from all sectors of the community. Projects are organized by communities that are usually tasked to a specific sister city and are responsible for creating and implementing a wide variety of projects.

How can I find out what my sister cities are?

Aurora Sister Cities International is in the process of re-establishing existing relationships with its sister cities as well as investigating and creating dialogues with potential new sister cities around the world. Our newest partner is the city of Adama, Ethiopia and we are working on a web-page dedicated to that relationship. Please be sure to browse this web-site for more information on our individual sister cities, as well as to learn about our various activities, exchanges and partnerships.

Is Aurora the only Colorado city with sister cities overseas?

No! Colorado is one of the most vibrant states for sister city collaborations. 18 cities in Colorado are members of Sister Cities International and represent relationships with over 40 cities across the globe. Aurora Sister Cities International maintains relationships with these agencies and collaborates regularly with other sister city organizations around the state and region.

How did the sister cities program begin?

Sister Cities International was founded in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It remains renowned worldwide as a distinguished people-to-people program that fosters international understanding. The organization works to promote cultural understanding, social development and economic growth, and as a national membership organization officially certifies links between U.S. communities and those abroad to ensure their sustained commitment and success in this mission. Today, the SCI network represents more than 2,100 communities in 121 countries around the world.

How can I get involved with my local sister city organization?

Aurora Sister Cities International is actively welcoming members and partner institutions to help build this vital outreach project together. We also welcome all citizens who are invested in the Aurora community to volunteer with our organization to help bring increased opportunities for international collaboration, progressive education, community partnerships and comprehensive integration of our government, business community, and citizenship. Please join us—together, we are Aurora Sister Cities International and it is our honor to bring this community to the global stage. Visit our MEMBER PAGE to find out which collaboration, membership or volunteer opportunity best suits you and your desire to contribute.

I am from a city abroad. How can I form a sister city relationship with Aurora?

If you are a municipal employee/elected official, or are working directly with elected officials in your community, please contact CEO Karlyn Shorb at kshorb@auroragov.org to initiate a conversation about forming a relationship.