Contact: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, media@knightfoundation.org

MIAMI – Oct. 17, 2017 –  To help eligible immigrants (green card holders) become citizens and participate more fully in the civic life, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced $1.5 million in new funding to the New Americans Campaign.

American citizens have many advantages over lawful permanent residents. Their spending power increases, they can vote, serve on juries, and run for office. Yet, many individuals eligible to become citizens are faced with barriers— including cost, limited knowledge of the process or eligibility requirements, as well as lack of access to legal assistance, and relevant civics or English classes.

The New Americans Campaign is a national collaborative that equips local organizations with the knowledge and resources they need to help lawful permanent residents overcome these barriers and complete citizenship applications. Since 2011, the campaign’s affiliates have generated more than 300,000 applications for naturalization, 45,000 of them in Knight communities.

Knight’s latest investment in the New Americans Campaign adds to the foundation’s prior funding of more than $2 million to assist immigrant groups and to support agencies working nationally and at the grassroots level. Knight was a founding funder of the campaign.

Funding will expand the campaign to three additional cities where Knight invests including Akron, Ohio; St. Paul, Minnesota and Philadelphia. It will also continue services in existing sites where the program operates in Detroit; Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami; and San Jose, California.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center based in San Francisco is leading the effort. The Center, with more than 30 years of experience and expertise in naturalization law, has led the New Americans Campaign since 2011.

“It is significant that Knight Foundation, as a co-founder of the New Americans Campaign, is doubling down on its commitment to innovating naturalization assistance,” said Melissa Rodgers of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center who directs the New Americans Campaign. “New data show that there is a large increase in the number of eligible immigrants who are interested in becoming U.S. citizens. We expect over a million to apply this year. Helping them is a historic opportunity to strengthen the very fabric of the United States.”

“Through the New Americans Campaign, we hope to support more engaged communities, as lawful permanent residents who naturalize gain the right to vote and to fully engage in the civic life of their community,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact.

The funding will support nonpartisan direct naturalization services over two years in seven cities where Knight invests. To advance the effort, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center will work with a diverse group of national and local partners with the goal of ensuring access to naturalization services for all interested permanent legal residents.

In addition, to supporting immigration service in seven Knight cities, funding will also bolster the New American Campaign’s Innovation Fund, which tests innovative strategies that may assist in the naturalization process. In addition, the investment will advance collaboration between cities and partners encouraging knowledge sharing and the development of best practices, while building local capacity, and supporting the campaign’s annual conference.

To learn more about the New Americans Campaign visit www.newamericanscampaign.org.

About the New Americans Campaign

Led by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the New Americans Campaign is a diverse nonpartisan national network of respected immigration organizations, legal services providers, faith-based organizations, immigrant rights groups, foundations and community leaders. The Campaign transforms the way aspiring citizens navigate the path to becoming new Americans. It is committed to connecting lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to trusted legal assistance and critical information that simplifies the naturalization process.

Past and current national funders of the Campaign include California Wellness Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Grove Foundation, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, John, S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and The JPB Foundation.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.