BALTIMORE — Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) has received a two-year $160,000 Citizenship and Integration grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. The grant is designed to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship. Under the program, BCCC will receive federal funding to support citizenship preparation services through September 2014.
BCCC has provided a full spectrum of English language instruction to immigrants and refugees since 1980. Specialized programs assist refugee youth and address the vocational needs of immigrants. A citizenship preparation program initiated in 1996 serves Maryland residents pursuing U.S. citizenship.
Grant funding will allow BCCC to build on the success of the citizenship program by preparing eligible lawful permanent residents for the USCIS naturalization interview and subsequent integration into American culture, utilizing classroom experiences and volunteer tutoring and mentoring. The International Rescue Committee is partnering with BCCC to provide application and legal services, enabling seamless student referral in the naturalization process.
Program participants prepare for their naturalization interviews by learning important interviewing strategies, developing confidence with the interview process, and practicing English language skills. Supplemental services are also available to students in the form of tutoring and study groups.
BCCC expects to provide 400 permanent residents with citizenship instruction and 200 with naturalization application services. Citizenship instruction is provided free of charge and is available at eight locations throughout metropolitan Baltimore and suburban Maryland. Although classes include individuals from all over the world, students from Spanish-speaking countries, Asia, and Eastern Europe make up the majority of the program’s participants.
The college will be developing a celebratory package containing congratulatory letters from Congressmen, voter registration forms, passport applications, complimentary museum admittance, library card applications and more to help those participants who successfully complete the naturalization process integrate into the community and exercise their rights and privileges as new Americans.
This is the second USCIS grant for BCCC’s citizenship program. The first, for $91,798, was awarded in 2010.
For more information, contact the BCCC Institutional Advancement Office.