Foundations Increase Support for Nation’s Largest Effort To Help Green Card Holders Become U.S. Citizens

Knight Foundation and Houston Endowment support New Americans Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO — From New York to Houston from Miami to San Jose, Calif., green card holders will soon find it easier to become U.S. citizens.

Today, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Houston Endowment announced their intent to fund the New Americans Campaign’s work in cities across the nation and help thousands of green card holders. Knight Foundation has awarded $1 million over two years to the campaign, and the Houston Endowment has granted $200,000 over two years.

“This new support is critical for our local service providers who are on the ground and experimenting with new ways to make the citizenship process easier,” said Eric Cohen, the executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, which is the lead organization for the New Americans Campaign. “Increased collaboration and innovation are key for modernizing the naturalization process in the U.S.”

In the past two years, the New Americans Campaign has built a collaboration of more than 100 immigrant rights and service organizations to provide low-cost citizenship assistance for lawful permanent residents, also known as green card holders. The campaign has helped more than 100,000 green card holders complete their citizenship applications.

The campaign’s new approaches include “mega workshops” in which hundreds of volunteers collaborate to help applicants fill out citizenship applications. Other innovations involve using mobile apps to help green card holders prepare for the process and study for the English and civics exams.

“Houston is a city that will continue to be built by immigrants, and integrating them as citizens is critical to our future,” said Claudia Ortega-Hogue, Texas Director of Civic Engagement at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, the site leader for the Houston collaborative. “In the coming years, we hope to continue helping thousands of green card holders here in Houston become citizens.”

“Our communities can only benefit when more of our green card holders become citizens,” said Benjamin de la Peña, Director of Community and National Strategy at Knight Foundation. “New Americans are entrepreneurial and ready to engage. Streamlining the naturalization process is good for them and for our nation.”

Knight Foundation’s grant will go to the Campaign’s local collaboratives in Detroit; Charlotte, N.C.; Miami; and San Jose, Calif., and the Houston Endowment Grant will support partners in the Houston collaboration. Supported activities include helping green card holders start the naturalization process, legal support with the citizenship application and help with overcoming financial barriers to citizenship.

Posted on June 24, 2014

Our Impact

  • The Campaign has completed over 3,700 naturalization workshops and clinics.
  • Over 250,000 citizenship applications completed since July 2011.

    Saved aspiring citizens and their families over $206million in legal and application fees.
  • Adopted scalable technology. MP3 players, Google Voice, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are being used to enhance naturalization service delivery.
  • Expanded New American Workforce (an effort to provide naturalization assistance within corporations) which has partnered with over 100 businesses across the nation, ranging from hotels in Miami to American Apparel in Los Angeles.
  • Deployed Citizenshipworks, an online tool, across the Campaign in multiple settings and languages. A newly redesigned platform guides applicants through through their citizenship application from start to finish and connects applicants to legal help at partnering non-profits.
  • Were instrumental in inspiring the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to support the Citizenship Corners initiative.
  • Created innovative partnerships with public libraries, school districts, universities, social service agencies, and employers, all of which yield not only greater numbers of applicants but also greater awareness of the naturalization process.
  • Deployed a large-scale volunteer recruitment program through an e-learning course.

    Reached diverse communities. Local partners consistently outreach and provide culturally competent and language-appropriate services.
Learn more from our
Impact Report.

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Who We're Helping

People come to America from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families and calling this great nation home. Eight million people who live, work, and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them naturalize each year. Find out more about these individuals and the barriers they face.Read More