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Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives in Human Services, On-the-Job Instruction, Education & Citizenship Honored with Prestigious National Award
Press Release
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives in Human Services, On-the-Job Instruction, Education & Citizenship Honored with Prestigious National Award

WASHINGTON — The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Thursday announced the winners of its 2012 E Pluribus Unum Prizes for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, honoring a Michigan Arab American organization that strengthens ties between immigrant and native-born communities, a California labor-business alliance that provides on-the-job English language and other classes for janitors and a California education coalition that has achieved significant instructional reform for English language learners. Each was given a $50,000 award. The Prizes’ Corporate Leadership Award was given to a major banking institution that supports citizenship promotion and economic empowerment for immigrants.

The E Pluribus Unum winners reflect the diversity of actors in the public and private sectors that are involved in immigrant integration efforts at the state and local levels. The winners will be honored Monday during a plenary luncheon at the National Immigrant Integration Conference, which will draw to Baltimore hundreds of community, advocacy, business and government leaders who work daily to advance immigrant integration in their communities. The prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy with generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to encourage the adoption of effective integration practices and to inspire others to take on the important work of integrating immigrants and their children so they can become full participants in U.S. society.

The E Pluribus Unum winners (click on links for more detail about each initiative) are:

  • ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services): Based in Dearborn, MI, ACCESS is the largest Arab American human services provider in the United States. Founded in 1971 in a storefront, ACCESS today serves tens of thousands of individuals yearly, offering people from origins in the Arab world and other immigrant communities a comprehensive array of wraparound services ranging from job training and medical assistance to after-school education. Through its Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Arab American National Museum and other initiatives, ACCESS serves as a national leader in promoting understanding of the Arab American community and has given Arab American groups the tools to help dispel myths and better connect with immigrant and native-born communities. Read the full ACCESS press release here.
  • Building Skills Partnership (BSP): Launched in the San Francisco Bay area in 2000 in partnership with Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West and later expanded across California, BSP brings together unlikely allies – labor and business interests – to offer janitors and other low-wage property service workers and their families help on the job from professional instructors, volunteer tutors (including college students) and office mentors. Through its ADVANCE program, engineers from Google, Microsoft and other companies tutor the mostly immigrant janitors and service workers who clean their offices, teaching valuable English and computer skills to a population that has few opportunities for educational or career advancement. Each year, BSP provides training for more than 2,000 low-wage property service workers who often have difficulty attending traditional English as a Second Language and instructional programs.  Read the full BSP press release here.
  • Californians Together: A statewide coalition of most stakeholder groups in education — parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members and civil-rights groups — Californians Together mobilizes communities and policymakers to protect and improve the education of all California students, including 1.4 million English language learners (ELLs) in grades K-12. Its work has affected the framework for ELL instruction statewide and shaped classroom-level practices to improve the quality of daily instruction ELLs receive. In 2008, Californians Together developed the Seal of Biliteracy, an award given by school leadership in recognition of students who attain a high level of proficiency in two or more languages (including English) by high school graduation. In 2012, more than 10,000 graduating high school students earned this first-in-the nation state recognition for biliteracy. New York recently enacted its own Seal of Biliteracy and other states are seeking to follow suit. Read the full Californians Together press release here.
  • Citi: Winner of the Corporate Leadership Award, Citi works with non-profit and public-agency partners to reduce financial barriers to citizenship for eligible legal immigrants and to expand economic empowerment for underserved low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. Citi Community Development is a key supporter of Citizenship Maryland, a first-in-the-nation initiative supported by a major banking institution that offers microloans to help legal immigrants who are eligible for citizenship afford the $680 application fees. The goal of the Maryland program, launched in 2011 and coordinated by CASA de Maryland, is to remove financial barriers to citizenship while also building participants’ financial knowledge. Citizenship has demonstrated benefits in terms of opening new opportunities for education, jobs and increased income. Yet more than 8 million legal permanent residents eligible to apply for citizenship have not done so. Read the full Citi press release here.

“The E Pluribus Unum Prizes highlight some of the most exceptional work being done across the United States to help immigrants build their new lives. As newcomers succeed in the classroom, the workplace and the community, they enrich and strengthen this country they have come to call home,” said Margie McHugh, co-director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy.

“We are honored to be able to recognize their work, knowing fully well that across America — in classrooms, community halls, government agencies, businesses and religious organizations — people are working tirelessly and often with little credit or attention to bring immigrant and native-born communities together. We salute their work and hope these awards draw attention to the importance of immigrant integration at local, state and national levels.” “Ultimately, immigration succeeds or fails based on how well immigrants become full participants in the economic and civic life of the United States,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, who is co-director of the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “Whether by tutoring immigrant janitors on the job or advocating for improved instruction for English language learners, our award winners demonstrate through their proven and replicable programs that there are many effective ways to promote the success of newcomers and their families — success that in turn benefits the broader U.S. community.” Profiles, videos and more information about the honorees can be found here

For more information or to set up interviews with award winners, please contact Michelle Mittelstadt at 202-266-1910 or [email protected]; or Burke Speaker at 202-266-1920 or [email protected]

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The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. Its National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy is a crossroads for policymakers, state and local agency managers, local service providers and others seeking to respond to the challenges and opportunities today’s high rates of immigration create in local communities. For more on MPI, please visit  www.migrationpolicy.org.