NW Area Immigrant Asset-Building Initiative


Northwest Area Immigrant Asset-Building Initiative

For the 8.5 million permanent residents in the United States seeking to naturalize, the $680 application fee poses a major barrier: it is estimated that the cost of citizenship application for a family of three living at 2013 federal poverty level could cost an equivalent of 10% of their annual income. Many immigrants who have been in the United States for 20 years or more are also more likely to live in poverty and without health insurance due to lack of access to vital services, including financial services.

In response, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees have launched the Northwest Area Immigrant Asset-Building Initiative to promote citizenship, integration and financial security for immigrant communities across the Northwest region. With generous support from the Northwest Area Foundation, the initiative has selected sites where credit union products and services will be integrated with immigrant legal and social services to provide comprehensive solutions for immigrants seeking to naturalize and to build credit and assets.

The two grant recipients are OneAmerica, which collaborated with Lower Valley Credit Union in Washington state and Ascentra Credit Union which partnered with the Diversity Service Center of Iowa (DSCI).

Click here for A Toolkit for Credit Unions Serving Immigrants.

Click here for the Seattle Roundtable blog.

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Left: Staff from OneAmerica spend time with citizenship applicants’ family members, making their events accessible for the whole family; Right: OneAmerica client proudly displays his rights to vote as an American citizen

The partnership between OneAmerica and Lower Valley Credit Union will facilitate citizenship clinics in Washington State, where credit union staff will offer financial education and financing options in tandem with immigration legal services provided by OneAmerica and its local affiliate, La Casa Hogar. In Iowa, Ascentra Credit Union and DSCI will work together to provide preferred rate financing options for those seeking assistance with immigration application fees, as well as financial education and citizenship courses.

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Alvaro Macias, Community Development Coordinator at Ascentra Credit Union headquartered in Bettendorf, Iowa, discusses the New Iowans Initiative designed to combine citizenship courses and affordable financing for citizenship applications. Click the image above to watch the video.

More about GCIR

Since 1990, GCIR has sought to influence philanthropy to advance the contributions and address the needs of the country’s growing and increasingly diverse immigrant and refugee populations. In so doing, GCIR seeks to promote effective grantmaking that not only improves the lives of newcomers but also strengthens communities. Visit www.gcir.org for more information on GCIR.

More about Northwest Area Foundation

The Northwest Area Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts by the people, organizations and communities to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity. The Foundation’s region includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon and more than 75 sovereign Tribal Nations that share the same geography. The Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill, operated in this area. Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the Foundation in 1934. Visit www.naf.org for more information about the Foundation.

For questions about the Northwest Area Immigrant Asset Building Initiative contact Jason Chang, Program Associate, at jchang@cdcu.coop.

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