New SF Initiative Will Help Immigrants On Path Toward Citizenship

The Pathways to Citizenship initiative will assist immigrants through the citizenship process as well as encourage civic participation among them.


On July 9, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and Board President David Chiu announced a three-year public-private partnership between the city and six philanthropic organizations to assist immigrants with the citizenship process. The program, called Pathways to Citizenship, intends to both guide citizenship-eligible immigrants through the process as well as encourage civic participation among them.

Currently, many of the Bay Area’s 100,000 citizenship-eligible immigrants struggle with the cumbersome process of becoming a citizen. This may be due to poor distribution of information or a lack of the necessary language support – barriers that Pathways to Education will tackle through local non-profit agencies. As more than 60% of this citizenship-eligible pool is made up of Asian Pacific Islanders, we expect to see many in our community and network benefit from this new program.

The initiative will cost approximately $1.2 million, with funding coming from two city agencies and six philanthropic organizations, each of whom have pledged $400,000 over three years. Among these sponsoring organizations are the Asian Pacific Fund; Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; The San Francisco Foundation; The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation; and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund. Recipients of grants to implement the program include lead agency Self-Help for the Elderly; the Asian Law Caucus; Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach; Catholic Charities CYO; the International Institute of the Bay Area; Jewish Family and Children’s Services; and La Raza Community Resource Center.

Speaking to the necessity of supporting this population, Board President Chiu said, “Immigrants are a vital part of San Francisco, operating a third of our small businesses. This Initiative is an investment in our future, and the unique partnership between the City, community and philanthropy will ensure a stronger San Francisco for all.”