Articles by

Marc Fest

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    About the New Americans Campaign via YouTube From Nov. 17-19, more than 600 immigrant rights supporters, elected officials, faith leaders, businesspeople and others from across the country will gather in Miami. They are convening to help define the direction of immigrant inclusion in the United States by attending the Sixth National Immigrant Integration Conference. At Knight Foundation we support the conference because we believe that new Americans make vital contributions to our economy and our democracy. According to a 2012 report by the Small Business Administration, immigrants have an above-average propensity to found new businesses. Knight’s Soul of the Community study, conducted with Gallup, showed that welcoming communities do better at attracting and retaining talented young people, which in turn also makes these communities more likely to succeed economically. RELATED LINK  "Attracting immigrant talent essential to city economies, Coletta says" by Andrew Sherry on KnightBlog A 2012 report by the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration found that citizenship can boost individual wages, with the potential to increase cumulative earnings over 10 years from $21 billion to $45 billion, also increasing the value of goods and services this country produces. Those benefits could begin accruing today with the help of the 8.8 million legal permanent residents who live in the United States as green card holders. They are already qualified to become citizens. They could make the step toward citizenship right now, with all the ensuing monetary and civic benefits to our society. But many are afraid of the naturalization process. That’s why Knight Foundation focuses its immigration support on the New Americans Campaign. The effort brings together more than 100 nonprofits and funders to modernize how our society helps legal permanent residents in their pursuit of citizenship.
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    Knight Foundation supports the New Americans Campaign, a bipartisan national coalition working to modernize and streamline access to naturalization services. Above: Want citizenship? There's an app for that!  Today is Citizenship Day (aka “Constitution Day”), which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and recognizes the efforts of people who have made the decision to become American citizens. It’s a great occasion to ask this question: Did you know that there are more than 8 million green card holders in this country (sometimes called “the forgotten 8 million”) who could become U.S. residents right now—if they only wanted to? The New Americans Campaign, funded in part by Knight Foundation, aims to modernize the ways in which service providers help these Lawful Permanent Residents embark on the naturalization process. But to many green card holders it is tempting to maintain the status quo because they think they’re only missing out on the ability to vote. Many don’t realize that there are economic benefits—both for the individual and the nation—to becoming a citizen. For example, a study published in December 2012 by the University of Southern California (“Citizen Gain”) found that citizenship alone can boost individual earnings by 8 percent to 11 percent, leading to a potential $21 billion to $45 billion increase in cumulative earnings over 10 years nationwide. Becoming a U.S. citizen confers other benefits as well: Citizens often become more engaged in their communities, they gain the ability to sponsor family members for immigration, and many government employment opportunities require citizenship. 
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    Mega Workshop Miami from Knight Foundation on Vimeo. Marc Fest is a consultant for Knight Foundation and the New Americans Campaign, a Knight-funded project to modernize naturalization assistance in the United States. Below, he writes about a recent “mega workshop” held in Miami to help 1,000 green card holders begin the complex citizenship process. The air was sweltering on a recent Saturday at Miami Dade College. But about 1,000 people didn’t mind standing in line. They had come to change their lives by embarking on the challenging path towards American citizenship at Miami’s first “mega workshop.” The event, organized by the New Americans Campaign, a nationwide effort of more than 100 partner organizations, is partially funded by Knight Foundation. The goal: to use novel and more efficient approaches to help green card holders become American citizens. Its local organizers were excited, but also a bit nervous, about trying their new ideas. Two hundred lawyers, law students, and paralegals signed up as volunteers. “Naturalization can be a complex process,” explained Randy McGrorty, director of Catholic Legal Services at the Archdiocese of Miami, the lead organizer of the event. “We were very careful with the people we selected,” he said, “and there were many training opportunities.”
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    New software, mega workshops and non-profit collaboration to innovate naturalization assistance; two former INS Commissioners join effort, lending bipartisan support LOS ANGELES — (November 13, 2012) – An unprecedented national network of more than 80 legal-service providers, businesses, faith-based organizations, community leaders and foundations has launched The New Americans Campaign, a nonpartisan project to modernize the system […]

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    Photo Credit: Flickr user ccho Within hours of Sandy hitting the Northeast this week, the team at Recovers.org was on the ground, helping communities organize their response through its new web and mobile platform. To date, four communities in New York  - including hard hit Staten Island - are using the 2012 Knight News Challenge winner’s platform to coordinate everything from food donations for the mentally ill to volunteer translators for those left isolated in Chinatown. Public Stuff, supported through Knight's Enterprise Fund, is also providing community residents with tools to report and document damage. Its app can help residents report non-emergency requests. Though Knight Foundation’s mission does not focus on disaster relief, its goal of promoting informed and engaged communities inevitably involves supporting technologies that people use to make their communities more resilient. Through both the News Challenge and Tech For Engagement initiatives, Knight has funded several disaster-related projects that tap the power of communities to help themselves. For instance: Ushahidi provides an online platform to organize and display citizen reports from large news events, including natural disasters (it was used, for example, to map relief in post-quake Haiti.) Safecast, which became a leading source of radiation information in Japan, is a network of sensor devices to collect crowd-based submissions of data about the environment. SocialCoding4Good aims to increase awareness of software-supported volunteerism by matching humanitarian organizations that work on issues like disaster relief. Knight supported the development and implementation of a social game, called “Battlestorm”, to increase awareness and change habits in Biloxi towards disaster preparedness in an entertaining and informative way.
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    Practitioners, academics, public officials, funders, and others are gathering in downtown Boston today for the Third Annual Conference in Civic Studies at Tisch College, Tufts University. Its title is “Frontiers of Democracy: Innovations in Civic Practice, Theory, and Education." Paula Ellis, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, and Damian Thorman, National Program Director, are both representing  Knight Foundation at the conference.
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    Today in Washington, the FCC is unveiling a new report that offers practical ways public policy can improve the environment for local accountability journalism, which has suffered significant cutbacks in recent years as traditional media struggle to make the transition to the digital age. We’re proud that the FCC’s effort was inspired by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, which in 2009 set out a vision for promoting informed, healthy communities into the future. The Commission offered 15 recommendations to help Americans meet their local information needs, including: setting new standards for universal broadband, strengthening public media and ensuring that governments are transparent.
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    O’Miami, a county-wide poetry festival, is under way. Its ambitious goal: for every single person in Miami-Dade County to encounter a poem during the month of April. Produced by the University of Wynwood and funded by Knight Foundation, O, Miami is a month-long series of events and projects with the simple goal of every person in Miami-Dade County finding a poem. Mixing traditional readings with innovative poetry-in-public-places projects, the festival will weave poetry into the fabric of the city’s existing infrastructure and cultural life. Events will be conducted in multiple languages, sometimes simultaneously, often in collaboration with other cultural organizations. O, Miami culminates in a four-day series of readings from April 27-30, 2011 at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Symphony Hall on Miami Beach. Read a Knight Arts interview with O'Miami founder Scott Cunningham. Or read this Miami Herald story about O'Miami. For more information, check out its Web site.