About the Citizenship and Assimilation Grants
The Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program has been a part of a multifaceted effort to provide citizenship preparation resources, support, and information to immigrants and immigrant-serving organizations since 2009.
The program has awarded more than $82 million through 393 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 38 states and the District of Columbia. The program has helped more than 200,000 lawful permanent residents prepare for U.S. citizenship.
Citizenship instruction and naturalization application services grant recipients are public or private nonprofit organizations with recent experience providing citizenship instruction and naturalization application assistance to lawful permanent residents (LPRs). These organizations include community and faith-based groups, public libraries, and adult education and literacy organizations.
Refugee and asylee assimilation program grant recipients are also public or private nonprofit organizations with recent experience providing citizenship instruction and naturalization application assistance LPRs. These organizations must also have extensive experience providing ongoing assimilation services to LPRs who have entered the United States as refugees or asylees and have a robust network of local service providers to refer clients to as needed. The organizations include faith-based groups and community organizations.
In September 2018, USCIS announced the award of $9.425 million in grants under two competitive funding opportunities to 40 organizations in 19 states to help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship.
USCIS awarded the grants through two competitive funding opportunities. The first funding opportunity supports organizations that provide citizenship instruction and naturalization application assistance to lawful permanent residents (LPRs). The second funding opportunity supports organizations that provide extended assimilation services to LPRs who have entered the United States as refugees or asylees. These organizations provide critical services to help LPRs obtain the skills and knowledge they need to prepare for the naturalization interview and test, while simultaneously fostering a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States.
Grantees in Action
USCIS grant recipients have demonstrated impressive creativity and innovation as they use grant funds to promote citizenship and immigrant assimilation in their local communities. The program success stories highlighted below illustrate the important work of immigrant assimilation undertaken by USCIS grant programs throughout the country. Whether by engaging the immigrant teen population in early outreach, or by using technological innovation to facilitate citizenship education, these grant programs are leading the way in their communities.
Learning About American Life in Queens, NYThe Emerald Isle Immigration Center (EIIC) has a long history of helping new immigrants assimilate into their new communities while learning about the culture and history of the United States. With USCIS grant funds, EIIC continues to teach lawful permanent residents about American life through visits to local museums, holding a Citizenship Day picnic, and celebrating Thanksgiving with a multicultural potluck dinner. [Read more.]
Exchanging Cultures with West Point Cadets in Brooklyn, NY
For more than 10 years, the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach has hosted a cultural exchange with the United States Military Academy for its citizenship students and the local community. Twice a year, around 80 cadets studying Russian have joined 120 predominantly Russian-speaking students for a face-to-face exchange in both English and Russian. [Read more.]
Walking Through History in New York, NY
Every day across the East Coast, members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East are helping Americans to give birth, get lab tests, live longer in their own homes, and navigate the healthcare system. As part of an assimilation activity, fifteen home health aides who are students in 1199SEIU’s USCIS-funded Citizenship Program took some time to learn how to navigate around New York City, experience American history first-hand, and gain confidence to explore new places—all while learning English. [Read more.]
Interacting with the Government in Salt Lake City, UT
The English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) knew their students needed help navigating local and federal government agencies and learning how to interact with those agencies. To that end, ESLC facilitates class discussions on real life interactions with the government and welcomes immigration services officers from USCIS to conduct mock interviews with their students. ESLC also invites speakers from law enforcement, mental health organizations, affordable housing programs, and local libraries to present to its citizenship students. [Read more.]
Giving Back Through Volunteering in Apopka, FL
Volunteerism is a defining value of American civic life, and for many immigrants, the type of organized volunteerism they encounter in their new homeland has a distinctly American flavor. At the Hope CommUnity Center’s citizenship classes, students learn about a variety of civic engagement opportunities. Many volunteer while they are studying for the naturalization test and continue volunteering after they become U.S. citizens, often staying engaged at Hope CommUnity Center because they are grateful for the support they received on their way to U.S. citizenship. [Read more.]
Engaging Immigrant Teens in Hartford, CT
The Hartford Public Library has begun a dedicated effort to educate immigrant teens about citizenship and the naturalization process. Hartford High School students can choose to participate in an academic citizenship class, a senior capstone project, or an internship program. The students engage in outreach related to the citizenship process and volunteer to assist eligible lawful permanent residents in their community as they pursue citizenship. [Read more.]
Creating a Citizenship Class Website for Students in Houston, TX
Boat People SOS- Houston used Google Sites and Google Forms to create the BPSOS-Houston Citizenship website. This site contains practice vocabulary quizzes, pronunciations with audio sound, interview tips, class updates, and exercises. The link can be accessed on students’ smart phones so they can continue to review resources from anywhere. [Read more.]
Improving English through Telephone Conversation Partners in St. Louis, MO
The International Institute of St. Louis developed a “Telephone Conversation Partners” program with a telephone-based curriculum to provide structured citizenship learning and interview practice outside the classroom. Students and tutors spend 30 minutes together over the phone each week to review practice questions about U.S. history, the legislative branch, and citizenship rights and responsibilities. [Read more.]
Bringing Naturalization Legal Services to the Classroom in Baltimore, MD
Baltimore City Community College partners with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to increase student access to legal information and services. Once a semester, the IRC’s DOJ-accredited representatives visit the citizenship classes to conduct a “mini-workshop” in which they explain the application process to students, screen students for naturalization eligibility, and fill out the Form N-400 for any students who are eligible and ready to apply. [Read more.]
Recruiting Law Student Volunteers to Help with Citizenship Application Workshops in San Francisco, CA
The International Institute of the Bay Area works with the Stanford Law School Pro Bono Project to recruit law student volunteers who assist permanent residents in preparation for the naturalization application and interview. The law students gain experience serving as mock immigration officers, while IIBA provides them with training on the naturalization requirements and interview process. [Read more.]
Preparing Students for the Naturalization Process through One-on-One Mock Interviews in New York, NY
The Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NMCIR) supplements citizenship instruction with one-on-one mock interviews to ensure students are well-equipped for the naturalization process. Staff members and volunteers provide students with the opportunity to practice their verbal communication and listening skills, while overcoming apprehension they may have related to the interview. [Read more.]
Connecting Prospective Students to Citizenship Services in Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) takes an innovative approach to connect with community members seeking immigration services by employing a full time “New Americans Navigator.” The Navigator serves as the main point of contact for prospective citizenship students and guides them to the appropriate services as they go through the process of applying for naturalization. BPL has enhanced access to immigration services through a customer service-focused approach to outreach. [Read more.]
Program in Action
See photos of the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program.