GCIR’s National Citizenship Initiative
Launched in 2011, GCIR’s National Citizenship Initiative seeks to engage foundations across the country to invest in programs, services, and innovations to help eligible immigrants attain U.S. citizenship. We help national, regional, state, and local foundations coordinate and align their funding; identify partnership and leverage opportunities; and facilitate information sharing and peer-learning. In so doing, we create economies of scale, deepen the impact of citizenship funding, and promote sustainability. Citizenship and civic participation are one of GCIR’s strategic priorities under our current strategic plan.
The Importance of Citizenship
Read GCIR's national case statement on citizenship here.
In the United States, an estimated 8.2 million immigrants1 are currently eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Approximately 30 percent live in California (2.5 million), with sizable numbers in states such as New York (950,000) and Texas (900,000). And more than a dozen other states—including Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois—are home to at least 100,000 citizenship-eligible persons.
Naturalization brings significant social, economic, and civic benefits not only to newcomers and their families but also to local communities, individual states, and the country as a whole. However, in order to maximize the number of immigrants becoming U.S. citizens, national, state, and local funders must work together to build a stronger immigrant integration infrastructure that expands access to immigration legal services, citizenship application assistance, and English language instruction. These services are crucial to helping newcomers achieve citizenship, establish a social and economic foothold, and become full and active members of society.
Currently, GCIR’s citizenship work is focused on major metropolitan areas of the United States that were selected based on 1) large numbers of naturalization-eligible immigrants, 2) capacity and experience of citizenship service providers, and 3) a current and potential base of interested funders. In many of the following geographic areas, GCIR is working with established and/or newly developed citizenship collaboratives, which include funders and national and local service providers:
Click on the links below to access GCIR's citizenship case statements.
- Pacific Northwest
- Chicago, Illinois metro area
- Detroit, Michigan metro area
- South and Southeast
In these sites—as well as others that may be developed in the future—GCIR will seek to foster ongoing collaboration among service providers and funders, and to create a learning community so that best practices and innovations can be shared across sites and among national, regional, state, and local funders.
A wide range of foundations are involved in GCIR’s citizenship work. The following are providing significant support for this work at the national level:
- "Anti-Fraud Campaign" resource page, Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
The materials on this resource page consist of an anti-fraud “Toolkit” designed to be used to present information about immigration fraud at naturalization group processing events, graphic novels (comic books) for distribution to clients at these events, and posters that warn people about the dangers of immigration fraud for distribution throughout the immigrant communities you serve. The Toolkit contains Talking Points for a ten-minute presentation about fraud prevention at citizenship fairs and group processing events as well as a script for a thirty-second radio PSA in both English and Spanish.
How to Become Involved
Your foundation can become involved in GCIR’s citizenship work at the local, state, regional, and/or national level. For more information, please contact Kaying Hang.
1 Rob Paral and Associates. Benchmarks of Immigrant Civic Engagement. Prepared for Carnegie. Corporation of New York. New York, NY: July 2010. Data are estimates based on USCIS statewide data apportioned to local levels using the American Community Survey.