As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (Public Law 111-83), Congress provided $11 million to enhance U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS's) immigrant integration initiatives. This funding will bolster the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program and support additional initiatives for aspiring citizens, immigrant-serving organizations and citizenship instructors. These initiatives include:
An expanded Citizenship and Integration Grant Program to support citizenship education and preparation programs for lawful permanent residents (LPRs)
Improved Web-based resources to help immigrants, educators and immigrant-serving organizations—including a new, one-stop Citizenship Resource Center and the expansion of America's Literacy Directoryto include an online citizenship class search function and new program offerings
A national public awareness and education initiative to emphasize the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship.
Citizenship and Integration Grant Program
On Sept. 17, 2010, USCIS announced federal funding for 75 organizations to support citizenship education and preparation programs for LPRs. This funding will build capacity in communities to meet the increasing demand for citizenship services, including civics-based English classes, and support those on the path toward U.S. citizenship.
This competitive funding opportunity provides approximately $7.8 million through two separate grant programs. The Direct Services Grant Program will fund locally based citizenship preparation programs and allow recipient organizations to expand services. The National Capacity Building Grant Program will increase the capacity of national, regional and statewide organizations to offer new citizenship services through their members or affiliates in communities needing citizenship resources.
Funded programs aim to improve English language skills, provide education in U.S. history and government (civics), and prepare immigrants for the naturalization application and interview process. The 75 recipient organizations, along with their partner organizations, represent a wide variety of program types including immigrant-serving organizations, community and faith-based groups, public schools, adult education programs, community colleges and public libraries. The period of performance for these awards is between one and two years.
The FY 2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program represents a significant increase in funding over the previous year. In FY 2009, USCIS awarded 13 organizations a total of $1.2 million to expand citizenship preparation programs.
Improved Web-based Resources
USCIS is committed to making the naturalization process more meaningful and transparent for all applicants. Providing accurate and easily understandable information is the first step toward achieving this goal. In an effort to provide learners, teachers and immigrant-serving organizations with a one-stop resource for citizenship information and educational materials, USCIS developed the Citizenship Resource Center. This free, easy-to-use website will help users better understand the citizenship process and gain the necessary skills required to be successful during the naturalization interview and test.
Aspiring citizens visiting the website will be able to:
Learn about the naturalization process and testing requirements in clear language
Locate appropriate test preparation materials
Access interactive learning activities and multimedia resources
Search for upcoming citizenship and naturalization-related events
Educators visiting the website will be able to:
Learn about the naturalization process and testing requirements
Locate appropriate citizenship-focused teaching materials
Access multimedia resources to supplement classroom instruction
Identify free training and professional development opportunities
Organizations visiting the website will be able to:
Find information on USCIS grant programs and technical resources
Locate grant application opportunities and program development content
Browse success stories and promising practices for citizenship preparation from current and former USCIS grant recipients
The Citizenship Resource Center was designed on a platform that can be improved over time and easily expanded to meet evolving needs. In the upcoming months, USCIS plans to introduce:
Interactive learning activities to help applicants prepare for the English and civics portions of the naturalization test
An online training course to help volunteer instructors learn basic strategies for teaching English and citizenship; and
Short lesson plans and teaching tools for citizenship instructors.
Recognizing the continued demand for English language and citizenship instruction, USCIS partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to enhance the Web-based America's Literacy Directory to include a prominent citizenship class search function and an expanded list of program offerings. Through this joint effort, approximately 1,000 new citizenship programs have been added to the zip code searchable database.
National Public Awareness and Education Initiative
In spring 2011, USCIS plans to implement a national initiative to raise awareness about the rights, responsibilities, and importance of U.S. citizenship and the free educational tools and resources available to help eligible LPRs prepare for citizenship. The initiative seeks to accomplish the following objectives:
Increase awareness of the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship among LPRs
Increase understanding of the naturalization process and eligibility requirements among LPRs
Increase awareness of available citizenship preparation resources among LPRs and immigrant-serving organizations
Establish the Citizenship Resource Center as the preeminent location for identifying and utilizing citizenship preparation materials
For more information on the FY 2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, please visit www.uscis.gov/grants.
To learn more about the Citizenship Resource Center, please visitwww.uscis.gov/citizenship.