One step closer to citizenship


”On Citizenship Day, I helped a woman who has had her green card since 1989 and decided to apply for citizenship because it was the first time that she had enough money to pay for the application fees,” said SVCF Immigration Program Officer Anne Im. “This event provided her free assistance for the naturalization process bringing her one step closer to citizenship and achieving her dreams.”

CitizenshipAs part of our ongoing work to support and engage local immigrant communities in Silicon Valley, SVCF co-sponsored two annual Citizenship Day events in San Jose this spring, in collaboration with many local partners and nonprofits*. Over two workshop days, hundreds of immigrants completed citizenship applications and others moved forward on the path toward becoming U.S. citizens, thanks to free assistance provided by volunteers and legal professionals. More than 550 individuals received application assistance, and the event saved the immigrant community approximately $200,000 in services rendered, in part by processing 209 fee waivers. 

The 258 volunteers included SVCF donor Doug Edwards, who shared his reasons for volunteering: “I've been concerned about the increasing anti-immigrant rhetoric over the past few years and wanted to do get involved in a meaningful way to show that not all Americans are opposed to immigrants becoming citizens,” he said. “Citizenship Day seemed like an easy way to do something helpful in that regard, so I went to the training session and signed up for a shift. Most of my work involved helping individuals fill out government applications. It was a pleasure to hear their stories and to help them achieve their dreams of becoming citizens. The time commitment is minimal, but it's a great way to reconnect with what it means to be an American and how important that is to so many people struggling for a better life. I highly recommend volunteering at Citizenship Day to anyone who believes immigrants are a foundation of our country's strength.”

Citizenship"SVCF's immigration strategy aims to provide safety and security for immigrants, which includes access to legal services and advocacy,” explained Im. “Our nonprofit partners come together to organize events like Citizenship Day and provide assistance to immigrants throughout the year so that they thrive in our communities."

Citizenship"It was energizing,” said Emily Burns, an associate on SVCF’s corporate responsibility team who volunteered at Citizenship Day. "Being surrounded by so many people who spoke so many different languages and were all there with a common goal was an incredible experience. I volunteered at the registration table and met women who spoke Vietnamese, Spanish, Arabic and other languages. It was humbling and made me so proud to work alongside such passionate people at SVCF and in the community.”

CitizenSVCF Philanthropy Advisor Matt Schulzinger, who assisted with the form filling process, said “This day is so important to me because it helps connect my neighbors to resources that will enable them to gain their full citizenship rights. It was inspiring to witness powerful conversations about what being an American citizen means. Citizenship Day was a reminder for me that every time one of our fellow community members gains citizenship, our democracy becomes a better, stronger place.” 

*Thank you to the following co-sponsors of Citizenship Day 2019:

Learn more about SVCF’s strategic grantmaking and work to ensure a fair and accurate 2020 census.