Naturalize Charlotte is a nonprofit collaborative focused on increasing naturalizations among eligible residents in Charlotte. The nonprofit collaborative consists of two central components: the Naturalize Charlotte Group and the Naturalize Charlotte website. The Naturalize Charlotte Group consists of ten nonprofit and government organizations working to assist those on the pathway to citizenship through dissemination of information, classes, community support, and volunteerism. The Naturalize Charlotte website provides a central hub of information and resources to aid those seeking to be naturalized as United States Citizens. The Naturalize Charlotte group and the Naturalize Charlotte website both serve as unifying forces in the community by establishing coordination among nonprofits and connecting volunteers and clients to organizations.
The Naturalize Charlotte website’s development was supported by all member organizations of the Naturalize Charlotte Group. Member organizations include Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, International House, Latin American Coalition, Refugee Support Services, Southeast Asian Coalition, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the YMCA.
The Naturalize Charlotte website would not have been possible without the partner organizations that sponsored Foster and William Harris in proposing, developing, testing, and launching the Naturalize Charlotte website. Sponsoring organizations include the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Country Day School, and SHARE Charlotte.
THE STORY BEHIND THE WEBSITE
From left to right: Foster and William Harris pictured with City Councilman Larken Egleston and City Immigrant Integration Specialist Emily Yaffe, pictured with USCIS Community Relations Officer Daniel Knutson, and pictured leading a Naturalize Charlotte Group committee meeting.
Foster and William Harris are both natives of Charlotte and the co-founders of Naturalize Charlotte. They first learned about the naturalization process from Paty Prieto, a Spanish teacher at Charlotte Country Day School who had recently become a United States citizen. After she shared the complexities of the process with them, describing her journey to citizenship, the Harris brothers went to City Hall to learn more about the process and ways they could get involved. They learned about a desire for more inter-connectivity and collaboration around citizenship within Charlotte’s internationally-focused nonprofit community, and pitched the idea of a website to Emily Yaffe, the city’s Immigrant Integration Specialist. The brothers began developing Naturalize Charlotte as sophomores in high school, supported by Charlotte Country Day School's Director of International Studies, David Lynn. With the collaboration of all organizations in the Naturalize Charlotte Group and the support of City Hall, the Naturalize Charlotte website became a reality after two years of development, design, and testing by the Harris brothers. Today the Naturalize Charlotte website serves as a resource for those seeking citizenship, but also as a resource for current citizens seeking information about the process and volunteering opportunities.
Translators (listed left to right): Evan Biller, Laura Saavedra, and Lucia Abou Tayeh
Working alongside the Harris brothers, a team of student translators got involved to ensure the Naturalize Charlotte website would be accessible to a broader range of residents seeking citizenship. Thanks to the countless hours these volunteers spent manually translating each section of the website, the Naturalize Charlotte website is able to be offered in ten languages.