Madison Path to Citizenship and Literacy Network were recently jointly honored with a prestigious 2017 Community-University Partnership Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Madison Path to Citizenship is a coalition of more than a dozen community organizations, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies, and UW Extension. The coalition helps people overcome barriers to U.S. citizenship by offering free services for lawful permanent residents, such as citizenship education, legal consultation, and naturalization application services.

The Madison Path to Citizenship removes barriers and helps people realize their dreams of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Experts estimate that Dane County is home to 12,000-15,000 lawful permanent residents, many of whom do not have the resources or knowledge to become U.S. citizens. Barriers include a $725 application fee, inadequate English language abilities to pass the citizenship test, difficulties finding a trustworthy, affordable lawyer, and a long, confusing application process.

Founded in July 2015 with a grant from UW-Madison’s Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, Madison Path to Citizenship simplifies access to all naturalization services through partner organizations, while strengthening their existing support and filling gaps in needed services. In early 2016, Madison Path to Citizenship and Literacy Network collaborated in a new level of partnership to address the rapidly growing demand for citizenship classes in Dane County. They applied for and received a grant from the City of Madison to expand the citizenship program at Literacy Network.

“The partnership truly embodies the original spirit of the Wisconsin Idea by bringing the university and the community together,” says Laurie S.Z. Greenberg of UW-Madison Continuing Studies, coordinator of Madison Path to Citizenship. “This effort clearly ‘contributes to a vibrant, inclusive, participatory democracy’ by removing barriers and enabling people to become fully-engaged residents and U.S. citizens.”

The epitome of community partnership

The Literacy Network teaches citizenship classes and trains teachers and tutors for the coalition. Executive director Jeff Burkhart says, “Madison Path to Citizenship is the epitome of community partnership, bringing the UW-Madison’s resources and knowledge to best serve the community.”

Recipients of the 2017 Community-University Partnership Awards will be recognized in a ceremony at the University’s Olin House on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. Chancellor Blank of UW-Madison will present the awards.

Partner organizations in the Madison Path to Citizenship include UW-Madison Continuing Studies, UW Extension, Literacy Network, UW-Madison Latino/a Law Student Association, Community Immigration Law Center, Vera Court Neighborhood Center, Catholic Multicultural Center, City of Madison, Centro Hispano,  Dane CountyJewish Social Services of Madison, Madison Public Library, UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence, UW-Madison Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies, Latino Academy of Workforce Development, and Latino Education Council, Inc.