Citizenship and Integration Grant Program Promising Practices
USCIS grant recipients have demonstrated impressive creativity and innovation as they use grant funds to promote citizenship and immigrant integration in their local communities. Grant recipients have shown exceptional promise in their efforts to engage local immigrant populations and break down traditional barriers to citizenship. The promising practices highlighted below demonstrate their efforts to increase access to citizenship services as well as engage the general public in the successful integration of newcomers.
Innovative Instruction – Delivery and Content
Developed a “Telephone Conversation Partners” program with a telephone-based curriculum to provide structured citizenship learning and interview practice outside the classroom.
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Established specialized citizenship-focused ESL classes for seniors in different ethnic groups, including some classes at local apartment complexes where large groups of elderly permanent residents live.
Established specialized ESL/civics classes for stay-at-home moms held in the homes of the students.
Loaned students MP3 players that allow them to listen to the 100 Civics Questions and Answers and watch The USCIS Naturalization Interview and Test video during their free time.
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Recorded mock interviews with each citizenship student. The class then reviewed the video and provided feedback to improve each student’s performance.
Implemented a civic integration component as part of a citizenship class curriculum. Examples include having students apply for a library card and then presenting on their experiences in class or visiting a historical landmark and describing their visit and what they learned. This encourages students to practice their English skills and to be an active member of their community.
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Established a “class constitution” to teach students about the U.S. Constitution, laws, and voting. The students vote to enact laws and amendments to their class constitution, such as “arrive to class on time” and “no cell phone use during class.”
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Developed the “Citizenship Book Project” to encourage students to study for the naturalization test outside of the classroom. As they create their books, students build unique memories and associations that help them to retain the citizenship content. The presentation component of this activity allows students to practice speaking English.
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Held a celebration for students who recently passed their naturalization test. Other students gained confidence by hearing a first-hand account of the test and seeing their classmates succeed.
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Organized a “Citizenship Gala” to celebrate students’ accomplishments and provided teachers and volunteers with appreciation certificates signed by the Governor.
Promotion and Outreach
Held a “Path to Citizenship” event in collaboration with the local USCIS office. Presenters discussed citizenship eligibility requirements and the naturalization process. More than 140 permanent residents attended.
Played citizenship educational videos in office waiting rooms. Clients were then asked to “tell ten more” and spread the word about the organization’s citizenship services. Through this effort alone, the organization was able to reach more than 3,000 potential clients in the first six months of the grant period.
Engaging the Receiving Community
Established an immigrant story-telling program at the local library entitled, “From Russia with Love” to educate local citizens on the Russian immigrant community.
Held town hall meetings with the local community to promote immigrant integration as a two-way street.
Established a partnership with the local police department on a civic engagement initiative to help the immigrant population set up neighborhood crime watch programs.
Established a civics tutoring program utilizing local high school students as volunteer tutors.
Addressing Barriers to Citizenship
- Worked with residence coordinators to establish citizenship classes in low-income housing communities where a number of permanent residents live. This eliminates transportation as a major barrier to attending class.
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Provided workshops focusing on civic engagement with an emphasis on jury duty and voting.
Invited a U.S. Representative to visit citizenship classes in order to help students better understand the civic principles taught in the classroom.
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Organized visits to the State Capitol Building so that students can meet with elected officials, discuss local issues, and learn how to participate in government.
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Matched volunteers with students to participate in “Coffee Talk,” an opportunity for students to practice English conversation skills at area coffee shops that have donated free coupons.
Established a partnership with a local university to recruit student teacher volunteers to assist with citizenship instruction.
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Partnered with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a national volunteer program for adults aged 55 and over. Retired and senior volunteers offer the program a flexible schedule and a wealth of knowledge in a variety of areas.
Recruited and trained law student volunteers in order to provide permanent residents with high quality naturalization application assistance and interview practice.
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