SOMERVILLE – The Somerville Public Library (SPL) is launching a new Pathways to Citizenship program for English-language learners seeking U.S. citizenship.
With funding provided by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the two-year program will create a 14-week combined language and civics class, provide naturalization workshops, and expand related library materials offered at each of Somerville’s three branches.
The naturalization workshop series will begin in February, and the first cohort of up to 15 participants will begin English and civics classes in March. All workshops and classes will be held virtually on Zoom, led by instructors and volunteers from St. Mark Community Education Program. Registration is now open at tinyurl.com/beginneresolclass.
The Library has offered citizenship courses and one-on-one tutoring to help patrons prepare for the naturalization test in the past, but the Pathways to Citizenship program will be specifically designed for new English speakers, helping participants improve their language skills as well as their civics knowledge, both of which are requirements for a successful citizenship interview. Many individuals taking the naturalization test don’t qualify for a waiver to take the test in their native language, so these resources will provide critical support for individuals with limited English proficiency.
“The naturalization test is daunting even for a native English speaker, so imagine how hard it is for someone new to the language to pass,” said Literacy/Volunteer Coordinator Brigid Pigott. “With this program, we wanted to build a pathway to our regular citizenship classes to help even more of our residents ultimately become American citizens.”
The funding will also expand and update the existing Citizenship Corner at the Central Library and establish new Citizenship Corners at the East and West branches. “Enhancing resource collections and services that will help English learners feel more connected to their community is part of our Library’s mission, so we are excited for this opportunity,” said Library Director Cathy Piantigini.
For more information about the Pathways to Citizenship program, contact Brigid Pigott at firstname.lastname@example.org.