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Know Your Rights
Source: Queens Courier
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Queens Benefits from USCIS Grant Program

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awarded 75 community-based organizations from 27 states and the District of Columbia $7.8 million in grants at a special Constitution Day and Citizenship Day conference in Washington on Friday, September 17.

The City University of New York (CUNY) Citizenship Now!, HANAC, Inc., and Make the Road New York are among the organizations with offices in Queens that will be provided with the grant to offer direct citizenship preparation services to lawful permanent residents.

“U.S. citizenship is a critical milestone that many immigrants aspire to achieve,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, director of USCIS. “We at USCIS are proud to contribute the tools and resources these immigrants need to realize their aspirations and join the beautiful mosaic that is America.”

Under this year’s program, community-based organizations can use the grant for: citizenship or civics-focused English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction; citizenship instruction; educational resources (textbooks, language software, computers, etc); and naturalization application assistance (including legal services).

One of the grant awardees, the CUNY Citizenship Now! Legal Services program has assisted more than 66,000 immigrants with comprehensive immigration and citizenship services. With this grant funding, CUNY plans to offer multilevel citizenship test preparation courses to lawful permanent resident (LPR) populations from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Philippines, China and India at five CUNY campuses in all boroughs of New York City at York College.

“This is a great opportunity for the Queens community because the classes are free and students will be given workbooks and the opportunity to participate in a final exam,” said Monique Francis, Finance and Human Resource coordinator for CUNY Citizenship Now!

With grant funding, HANAC, a multiservice organization in Astoria that serves immigrant constituencies with social services, adult literacy education and citizenship programs plans on providing ESL/civics instruction using the “Language Experience Approach,” a teaching methodology that is student-centered, participatory and holistic.

Make the Road New York also plans on contributing to the Queens community by implementing Pathways to Citizenship Initiative that will provide intensive, individualized citizenship education and comprehensive naturalization application preparation services to low-income and primarily Latino LPRs.

“In a time where there is not a lot of money floating around, this is a great opportunity for some truly deserving organizations to provide the much needed services,” said Andrea Quarantillo, district director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).