Hispanic Federation Puts Civics Back in Citizenship
So you’re a new American citizen. Now what? That’s often the question for millions of naturalized Americans. The citizenship process is long and often grueling but how does one actively take part in the civic life of the United States? Where does one begin?
Hispanic Federation developed the American Civics Track (ACT) curriculum in response to the lack of representation of Latinos and immigrants in American History books. ACT uses lectures and hands-on activities to educate participants on American and local history, teach new citizens their rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens, and provide tools they can use to become change agents in their communities. The overall goal is to help immigrants feel comfortable and empowered both as U.S. citizens and residents of their states, and to facilitate inter-ethnic and racial dialogue between diverse groups. The curriculum is divided into four sessions which help facilitators and students translate history into action and civic engagement:
- USA: A Quick Historical Overview
- A Nation of Immigrants
- Ordinary People
- Getting Involved
“Newly-naturalized or soon-to-be-naturalized people want to get involved in the civic life of the United States but they often don’t know how to do that,” said Hispanic Federation's Director of Immigration Fryda Guedes. “We do a great deal of work around the citizenship process but I really felt that we needed to help people understand how they can make the most of their citizenship. ACT allows us to show how the American system works and how even a newly-minted citizen can play a crucial role in our democracy. With so much anti-immigrant rhetoric in our political life these days, its important to tell people that they have a voice and it matters.”
ACT began 2011 when Hispanic Federation partnered with member agencies to teach the ACT curriculum to clients and encourage civic engagement in the Latino community. In 2016, Hispanic Federation incorporated ACT into its on-the-ground civic engagement work. The American Civics Track Curriculum was taught to 118 high school students as part of the enrichment portion of their Voter Registration Canvassing Internship. These students were encouraged to apply strategies learned during ACT workshops to their daily lives and to their canvassing work.
For more information on the Hispanic Federation’s Civic Engagement program or ACT, please contact Fryda Guedes.