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In-Home Citizenship Tutoring Program

Two women gathered around a table studying notes on a paper.

In-Home Citizenship Tutoring Program with the Kentucky Refugee Ministries in Lexington and Louisville, KY

Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) was founded in 1990 with the mission of resettling refugees in Louisville, Kentucky, and the surrounding region. KRM has since expanded its range of services to include ESL and cultural orientation, employment assistance, interpretation services, support on immigration and naturalization, and many others. KRM received the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant in 2017. KRM provides immigration legal services in Louisville, Lexington, and northern Kentucky, while providing citizenship classes at a range of times and locations to accommodate as much of the community as possible. Several years ago, citizenship program staff recognized that some students were facing barriers preventing them from attending the regularly scheduled citizenship classes, which in some cases led them to fail one or more naturalization interviews. In response, KRM developed an in-home tutoring program, where they could match high-needs students with community volunteers who would bring the citizenship preparation services to them. 

In previous years, KRM had assigned tutors to students who needed help outside of the classroom, but because they had not yet applied for citizenship it was difficult to focus on the areas where the student needed the most assistance. This would sometimes result in students and volunteers losing motivation. As a part of KRM’s efforts to keep students engaged and progressing, classroom volunteers have been more strategically used to ensure students of varying abilities receive small group instruction and more individualized attention. This approach also helps KRM select students for the in-home tutoring program, specifically, individuals who are becoming disengaged or those who have failed previous naturalization interviews.

KRM has received positive feedback on this practice from both students and volunteers. The new in-home tutoring program, with the interview date as their deadline and a successful outcome as their goal, provides both the students and volunteers with a stronger sense of accomplishment. Sasha*(see photo) became a participant in the in-home tutoring program after failing the reading and writing portions of the citizenship test twice and voicing her challenges with attending classes. The citizenship coordinator developed a study plan to guide the tutor, who met once or twice a week with Sasha for four months until she felt confident enough to re-submit her N-400 application. Sasha has since passed the naturalization exam and became a naturalized citizen in February 2019. By bringing citizenship preparation services to the students at home and developing individualized plans to lead them to success, KRM is able to broaden their impact in the lawful permanent resident community and provide critical information and services to many who may not have had access to them previously.   

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