Guest post by Gretchen Greiner-Lott, Vice President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
On Monday, I attended a White House briefing on immigration. The audience was exclusively the leaders of Regional Associations of Grantmakers from around the country. Given the high level of immigration to our region, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers knew how important it was to be represented at this gathering. We heard from a number of speakers, including, Felicia Escobar, Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy; Leon Rodriquez, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Co-Chair, Task Force on New Americans, and other experts in immigration policy and philanthropy.
The key takeaways were that immigrants and their children make up 25 percent of the U.S. population. Currently, there are 13.3 million legal permanent residents in the U.S., and almost 9 million of them are eligible to become citizens. Because there are so many benefits to citizenship – such as higher wages and work benefits, health coverage, and access to college education – the Obama Administration has just launched the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign to encourage eligible immigrants to commit to citizenship. The Administration wants to engage funders at the local level on the main parts of the campaign: strengthening pathways to citizenship; building welcoming communities; supporting skill development, fostering entrepreneurship, and safeguarding workers; and expanding language integration and education.
Based on this meeting, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers will work with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees to elevate this topic for funders. Specific information such as state/regional data reports and speaker suggestions will be provided to regional associations to distribute to their members. WRAG will keep our members posted on these resources.
This post originally appeared on Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers' Daily WRAG.