In 2013, Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) launched the One Napa Valley Initiative (ONVI), a three-year campaign to create new citizens and a stronger community. The County of Napa, as well as every municipal government in Napa County, has invested in this $1.1 million public-private partnership, alongside more than 140 local donors, foundations and businesses. Last summer, NVCF’s Board voted to extend the ONVI campaign to 2018, and to increase its financial support to a total of $1.8 million, so its nonprofit partners can help more people with quality immigration legal services and create a plan for long-term sustainability.
There are an estimated 9,000 citizenship-eligible Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) in Napa County, but the absence of a robust legal services infrastructure to help them achieve citizenship has prevented many from taking this important step towards fuller participation in community activities and civic life. ONVI is working to change this by building awareness of the benefits and requirements of citizenship, helping LPRs with their naturalization applications, and preparing them for their citizenship exams/interviews. Since this project began in the summer of 2013:
- 48,025 people have been reached with information on the benefits and obligations of citizenship, including at least 6,448 LPRs
- 1,929 LPRs have received citizenship application (and related legal) assistance or enrolled in English as a second language and civics classes
- 224 people, most of them native-born, have volunteered to help others in our community become citizens
- 663 LPRs have submitted applications to become U.S. citizens
- 449 LPRs have actually become U.S. citizens
- 46 different countries are represented across our immigrant community members that have been helped by ONVI
Becoming a citizen takes determination, courage and hard work. Carry Thacher, Board Chair of NVCF, was present to help the Board of Supervisors recognize new citizens in our community, which benefits them, their families, and our Valley.
Photo credit: © Bob McClenahan