C4C Releases Toolkit: 10 Strategies to Help Cities Launch + Strengthen Citizenship Initiatives

Cities and counties play an integral role in promoting naturalization and removing the barriers that prevent LPRs from completing the citizenship process, ultimately fostering a more inclusive, robust and representative democracy. There are now 24 participating cities and two counties, including Miami-Dade and Suffolk County – together representing over 40 additional cities, in the C4C network. Our newly released toolkit, 10 Strategies to Launch and Strengthen Citizenship Initiatives, draws from the experiences of our member cities and highlights lessons learned and best practices from across the country to help cities create accessible, sustainable and tailored naturalization programs to promote citizenship.

Download the C4C Toolkit, 10 Strategies to Launch and Strengthen Citizenship Initiatives.

Immigrant Information Corners Established in all 24 Boston Public Library’s Neighborhood Branches

On April 14, 2016, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement officially launched the Immigrant Information Corners (IIC) initiative with a Ribbon Cutting and Press Conference at the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library. This initiative was a result of the collaboration between the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Office (USCIS), the Boston Public Library (BPL), the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), and various community partners, as well as the generous contribution made by Citi Community Development. The IIC’s are information stations meant to serve the immigrant community. The Corners are currently up and running in all the 24 BPL branches. The resources available in the IIC’s include: citizenship information, financial empowerment information, as well as information about public and community resources.

“We are pleased to be part of today’s launch of Immigrant Information Corners at the Boston Public Library,” said Denis Riordan, USCIS Boston District Director. “Boston’s aspiring citizens will now be able to visit their local library branch to find free USCIS citizenship preparation information and materials.  Our nation’s libraries play a vital role in serving immigrant communities, and we are proud to join in this announcement during National Library Week.”

“Libraries are a very important resource for the whole community, and with new Immigrant Information Corners throughout the city they will play an increasingly significant role, providing critical information on the journey towards becoming a citizen,” said David Leonard, Boston Public Library Interim President.

Having completed the initial set-up of the corners, we are now focusing on developing information programming at various library branches. The first official IIC program took place at the Hyde Park Branch on Thursday, July 21. Our office partnered with Agencia ALPHA, an immigration advocacy not-for-profit organization, and OFE to host informal Q&A consultations regarding immigration and financial empowerment with a BIA accredited representative and an OFE staff member. The objective is to hold monthly workshops and informational sessions at the library branches.

“In the City of Boston our immigrant population represents a dynamic and growing landscape and it is our hope that with this rebranding effort and the launch of Immigrant Information Corners, we are better able to serve our immigrant residents,” said Mayor Walsh. “Immigrants interact with the city’s library branches more than any other city agency, which offers us a great opportunity to engage our residents in their neighborhoods. The impact that immigrants have on our city will continue to grow in the years ahead and it is important that we plan for this growth and make sure it reaches everyone.”


Cities for Citizenship Welcomes 5 New Cities & Counties

    Cities for Citizenship welcomes its newest member cities and counties, including: Kansas City, KS, Long Beach, CA, South Gate, CA, Suffolk County NY, and Tucson, AZ! By signing on, these cities have joined 21 other cities and counties across the country that have pledged their commitment to promoting naturalization and building welcoming and inclusive cities for immigrants.

Interested in joining C4C or learning more about the program? Contact us at cities4citizenship@populardemocracy.org.


Cities for Citizenship Celebrates Citizenship Day 2016

On September 17th, Cities for Citizenship, the bi-partisan national initiative aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible legal permanent residents (LPRs), celebrates its 2 year anniversary. Since its launch, 26 cities and counties have joined the initiative helping more than 10,000 legal permanent residents to naturalize. Spearheaded by Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, and Bill de Blasio of New York, member cities include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chattanooga, Chicago, Denver, Jersey City, Los Angeles, Madison, Miami-Dade County, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

In the last few months, Kansas City, KS, Long Beach, CA, South Gate, CA, Suffolk County NY, and Tucson, AZ have also joined the program.

Major accomplishments since the C4C’s launch include:

  • 10,000+ individuals have pursued citizenship/initiated the citizenship process.

  • 6,000+ individuals received legal assistance/referrals.

  • 5,000+ individuals have attended financial empowerment classes.

  • 900+ individuals have participated in 1-1 financial coaching sessions.

  • 12,000+ have received information on the fee waiver, financial counseling, and/or citizenship microloan assistance.

For more information, take a look at our press release.

Cities for Citizenship is joining thousands of organizations across the country to celebrate Citizenship Day on Saturday, September 17th. Our participating cities and partners across the country are planning workshops and other citizenship-related events, including information sessions, classes and oath ceremonies, to help immigrants learn how to become citizens. For hundreds of legal permanent residents nationwide, these events will mark their first step towards beginning the citizenship process.



C4C Releases Toolkit: 10 Strategies to Help Cities Launch + Strengthen Citizenship Initiatives

    Cities and counties play an integral role in promoting naturalization and removing the barriers that prevent LPRs from completing the citizenship process, ultimately fostering a more inclusive, robust and representative democracy. There are now 24 participating cities and two counties, including Miami-Dade and Suffolk County – together representing over 40 additional cities, in the C4C network. Our newly released toolkit, 10 Strategies to Launch and Strengthen Citizenship Initiatives, draws from the experiences of our member cities and highlights lessons learned and best practices from across the country to help cities create accessible, sustainable and tailored naturalization programs to promote citizenship.

Download the C4C Toolkit, 10 Strategies to Launch and Strengthen Citizenship Initiatives.


Cities for Citizenship Hosts National Municipal Gathering in Nashville, Tennessee

On Sunday, December 11th, 2016, the Cities for Citizenship (C4C) initiative hosted a powerful C4C Municipal Gathering in Nashville, Tennessee that brought together 75 municipal and national leaders representing 42 cities and counties ranging geographically from Anchorage, Alaska to Atlanta, Georgia.

The C4C Municipal Gathering, scheduled immediately prior to the kick-off of NPNA’s National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC), focused on the topics of naturalization, financial empowerment and immigrant integration. Cities and counties left the gathering feeling energized by new relationships built, grateful for the space to share ideas, and eager for 2017.

The C4C Municipal Gathering included the following breakout discussions and speakers:

Breakout 1: “Integrating Financial Inclusion and Empowerment in Naturalization”


Pablo DeFilippi, Vice President of Membership and Business Development, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions

Jessica Caloza, Policy Analyst, Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

Eileen Auld, Citi Community Development

Madeline Cruz, Senior Financial Coach, The Resurrection Project

Breakout 2: “Naturalization and Immigrant Integration Practice and Policy at the Municipal and State Level”


Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy

Mette Brogden, Deputy Director, Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Rich Stolz, Executive Director, OneAmerica, Seattle

Break Out 3: “Scaling Up: Strategies for Ramping Up Your City or County Naturalization Efforts”


Carol Leon, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement

Richard Whipple, Deputy Director, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs

Liza Ryan, Director of Organizing, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

Monica Fuentes, Director of Washington, D.C. Office, Welcoming America

Break Out 4: “Building Capacity: Training of Community Navigators and Partnerships with Legal Services”


Eréndira Rendón, Director of National Partnerships, The Resurrection Project

Richard André, NYCitizenship Program Manager, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

Diego Bonesatti, Director of Legal Services, Michigan United

Laura Tuell, Firmwide Pro Bono Counsel, Jones Day

C4C Municipal Gathering Lunch Plenary


Laura Patching, Chief of the Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS)

Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, Head of Section – Hispanic and Migration Affairs, Embassy of Mexico

Rich Stolz, Executive Director, OneAmerica

Thank you to our sponsors and partners!

The C4C Municipal Gathering was made possible by generous support from Citi Community Development and Jones Day. The funding support allowed 40 participants to receive the C4C Municipal Scholarship valued at $800. The scholarship provided much needed support to participants who would not have been able to attend if it was not for the scholarship.

Additionally, the C4C Municipal Gathering was successful due to the work of the C4C Executive Committee and the C4C Municipal Gathering Planning Committee which includes the offices of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Welcoming America, Local Progress, Cities for Action, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), and Citi Community Development.


Tucson C4C AmeriCorps VISTA receives Mayor’s National Service Award

On Wednesday, March 29th, Steven Benitez, an Arizona Serve member serving with Chicanos Por La Causa working on the Cities for Citizenship mayoral initiative, received a high honor from Mayor Rothschild when he was awarded the Mayor’s National Service Award. Mayor Rothschild commended Steven for his tireless efforts to make citizenship achievable and accessible to eligible Tucson residents.

The 2017 Mayor and County Day of Recognition for National Service in Tucson was celebrated at the 29th Street Coalition Center, one of the local Pima Community College campuses. A total of 9 National Service teams were in attendance or represented by their staff, including: Arizona Conservation Corps, Arizona Serve, Northern Arizona University AmeriCorps, Northern Arizona University Foster Grandparents, Our Family Services Senior Companions, Pima Community College Adult Basic Education AmeriCorps, Pima Prevention Partnership AmeriCorps, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Wildcat Corps, State of Arizona Refugee Resettlement VISTA, and the National Civilian Community Corps team serving the Tucson Community Schools Initiative. Over 170 attendees filled the room as speeches were made from Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Assistant Principal of TUSD Mark Alvarez, Vice President for Adult Basic Education for College and Career at Pima Community College Regina Suitt, Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, as well as an alumna from Arizona Conservation Corps. Four Mayor’s National Service Awards were presented to each local stream of service, including VISTA, AmeriCorps State, Senior Corps, and NCCC. This event was an opportunity to celebrate the impacts our National Service programs make in this region and learn from our local elected officials how much they value and support the continuation of National Service programs in the future.

Hiring AmeriCorps VISTAs has been an effective strategy for C4C cities and counties to address staffing and resource needs to support their naturalization efforts. C4C joins Mayor Rothschild in congratulating Steven Benitez for his work and commitment to help the immigrant community advance in Tucson!

Jersey City Office of Welcoming Communities’ Community Navigator Training

The Office of Welcoming Communities (OWC) of Jersey City held its first community navigator training this past Saturday. The community navigator program is part of Jersey City’s Citizenship Campaign.

The training session, led by members of the OWC Yves Nibungco, Yalenny Vargas and Pam Andes, as well as one Americorp VISTA, Maneza Mohamad Ali. The first session had 20 participants comprised of community members and representatives of community organizations. Notably, some participants that the OWC was able to engage came from the traditional cultural organizations are usually mainly engaged in social and cultural activities.

The participants learned about Jersey City’s Citizenship Campaign, the citizenship process, and basic information and qualification for citizenship. Also present at the training were the new Immigrant Affairs Commissioners as well as Jersey City’s Council President, Rolando Lavarro Jr.

The community navigator training has 3 sessions, first is the orientation where prospective community navigators get to learn about the citizenship campaign as well as the role of community navigators. The second session involves a more in-depth training on the N-400 naturalization application and the I-912 fee waiver request. The third and last session entails actual practice and assistance of contituents in one the Office of Welcoming Communities’ regularly scheduled citizenship application appointments at the City Hall.

The community navigator program is part of Jersey City’s Citizenship Campaign #JCMakeItYours #Cities4Citizenship, which aims to educating, engaging and mobilizing various stakeholders in Jersey City to promote citizenship application. For this year, the OWC aims to train at least 10 community navigators increase the number of citizenship applications.


July 4th: C4C Releases Impact Report, Joins Naturalize NOW, Celebrates the Growth of C4C!

On July 4th, Cities for Citizenship (C4C) released a new report showing surging interest in citizenship across the country and demonstrating how naturalization can benefit cities. On the same day, Naturalize NOW!, a campaign that C4C is co-sponsoring, announced more than 20 Mayoral sponsors and more than 150 citizenship events throughout the summer.

The report, from the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Citi Community Development, and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) looks at the impact of the Cities for Citizenship program, which helps cities invest in programs designed to encourage citizenship and let green card holders overcome hurdles to naturalization. The C4C program contributed to the national uptick in naturalization applications in 2016, which saw a record 970,000 applications for citizenship – a 24 percent increase over 2015.

The number of cities joining the program has also skyrocketed, with 19 new city and county partners since the start of 2016, nearly doubling the total number of cities involved. C4C’s network of municipal partners grew by 46 percent in just the first six months of 2017. New cities joining since the start of 2016 include: Anchorage, AK; Cleveland, OH; Dayton, OH; Detroit, OH; Houston, TX; Knoxville, TN; Long Beach, CA; Louisville, KY; Kansas City, KS; Madison, WI; Miami City, FL; Montgomery County, MD; Paterson, NJ; Portland, OR; Salt Lake County, UT; Suffolk County, NY; and Tucson, AZ.

The Cities for Citizenship program now spans 39 cities across the country. The new additions include Mayors from small towns and states deep in the heartland, underlining that citizenship is an issue that bridges the partisan gap.

The release of the report garnered significant press interest and was covered in:

Citizenship offers a wealth of advantages for local economies. Supporting immigrants in the process of naturalization contributes to the financial security of immigrant families, helping localities as a result. After naturalizing, individual earnings increase by an average of eight percent (or $3,200) and rates of employment and homeownership go up. Those individual earnings translate into sizable federal, state, and city tax revenue that cities can then put to good use for public programs and services. Research has found that naturalizing all eligible individuals in twenty-one major metropolitan areas would bring a projected $2 billion in annual revenue.

The Naturalize NOW! Campaign also had a big day of action on July 4th. The campaign aims to boost naturalization rates and secure another million citizenship applications in 2017. Mayors from Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Cleveland, OH; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Jersey City, NJ; Knoxville, TN; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Miami Dade County, FL; Montgomery County, MD; Paterson, NJ; Pittsburgh, PA; New York City, NY; Salt Lake County, UT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, CA; South Gate, CA & Tucson, AZ have joined the Naturalize NOW! effort, and the campaign has organized 164 events throughout the summer. You can see all partners and events at www.naturalizenow.us.

The incredible energy to increase citizenship rates in cities across the country will continue to grow throughout the summer. On Citizenship Day, September 17th, the network of C4C cities plan to amplify the benefits of citizenship and work towards naturalizing more residents. Several cities including San Jose, Seattle, Tucson, Salt Lake County and Pittsburgh have already planned naturalization events near that date and the network has committed to join in collective actions on that day. Please join us! If you are interested in getting involved on Citizenship Day, please email us at citiesforcitizenship@populardemocracy.org.


Cities and Counties lead Citizenship Day activities throughout September

The C4C network of 39 cities and counties actively participated in Citizenship Day throughout September by hosting naturalization workshops, oath ceremonies, launching new citizenship initiatives and communicating the importance of naturalization on social media and in local newspapers. Cities saw large turnout at events with 600+ people registering for a San Jose Citizenship Workshop and 371 people being assisted at the workshop in Boston.

Also, Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett visited NPNA member, CASA’s Citizenship Workshop. County Executive congratulated community members for making the decision and taking the important step to becoming U.S. citizens and recognized the great work of our community partner organizations, the work of the staff and all of the volunteers.

C4C Mayors published op-eds across the nation, including Mayor McAdams of Salt Lake City, UT, How We Can Invest in Citizenship and Mayor Rothschild Tucson, AZ, Being A Citizen Means Standing Up for American Values. Also, San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs launched their partnership with local libraries to make the citizenship process more accessible for residents.

Cities for Citizenship welcomes the cities of Portland, OR, Dallas, TX, Miami, FL and Montgomery County, MD as our newest members!


C4C will host the 2nd Annual Cities for Citizenship Municipal Gathering

The 2nd Annual Cities for Citizenship (C4C) Municipal Gathering will bring together over 60 municipal leaders and organizations to discuss naturalization, financial empowerment and immigrant integration programs and policies. Building off of the success of the 2016 C4C Municipal Gathering and the significant expansion of the network in 2017, the municipal gathering is an opportune moment to come together in-person, share best practices, discuss lessons learned and strategize for the work ahead in 2018.

The municipal gathering will take place Sunday, December 10th from 9 AM – 2 PM prior to the kick-off of the 10th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. This allows for municipal leaders to attend both the C4C Municipal Gathering and move straight into the NIIC conference.

The C4C Municipal Gathering is organized by the C4C Executive Committee, along with the 2017 co-partners: Cities for Action, Local Progress, New American Economy, Welcoming America, and the National Federation for Community Development Credit Unions.

Please register for the 2nd Annual C4C Municipal Gathering here.


NPNA Report Shows Spike in Citizenship Applications, Increase in Backlogs

A new report by the National Partnership for New Americans, Building a Second Wall: USCIS Backlogs Preventing Immigrants from Becoming US Citizens details the continued growth in citizenship applications and increase in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing backlogs.

Key Findings

– In the time since the 2016 presidential primary elections and now through the Trump Administration’s first year in office – 1,028,647 lawful permanent residents have applied to become U.S. citizens, a 10.5% increase over the same period last year

– Currently there are 708,638 pending applications, an increase of 35.23% in the backlog of pending applications over last year and a 77% increase in the last two years

The release of these national findings comes on the heels of a recent New York Times exclusive.

Despite the nationwide coordinated nonpartisan efforts led by the Naturalize NOW Campaign and its broad range of stakeholders and coalition partners, the report exclaims that such massive backlogs are contributing to the formation of an added barrier and institutionalization of a ‘Second Wall’, that will undoubtedly delay families from permanently protecting their loved ones.  But even more critical still is how this Administration’s perceived ‘slow-walking’ of these citizenship applications will delay long timeimmigrants, from their much anticipated entry to the ballot box.

The report offers direct policy recommendations that include urging USCIS to consider prioritizing resources to quickly process naturalization applications and bring the wait timedown to six months. The report calls on Congress to investigate why these delays are occurring and recommends providing USCIS with a special funding allocation to address their application backlog challenges.