the NaturalizeCharlotte blog

The People Behind Naturalize Charlotte

Naturalize Charlotte is a collaborative effort to increase naturalizations among eligible residents through dissemination of information, classes, community support, and volunteerism.


It takes a village...

Thanks to an extraordinary group of people working together over the past few years, Naturalize Charlotte has grown into a full-fledged movement dedicated to welcoming and supporting immigrants and refugees in Charlotte as they navigate the pathway to citizenship. Naturalize Charlotte is a multi-platform initiative to mobilize eligible residents to naturalize and would not be possible without support from cross-sector stakeholders in the government, nonprofit, and broader Charlotte communities who helped nurture the project from its inception.


Government support...


The current Naturalize Charlotte Group traces its origins to a working group led by Emily Yaffe, who was the City of Charlotte's International Relations Specialist at the time. Yaffe, who has since moved into the role of Immigrant Integration Specialist for the City of Charlotte, took a chance by allowing two high school sophomores, Foster and William Harris, to build Naturalize Charlotte as a community resource. Yaffe served as a mentor and guide to Foster and William over two years of development, design, and feedback-gathering as they built the Naturalize Charlotte website. The City of Charlotte's Office of Equity, Mobility and Immigrant Integration, led by Federico Rios, has sponsored the Naturalize Charlotte project since inception and has allocated resources to sustain Naturalize Charlotte into the future. Today, Naturalize Charlotte is fully funded by the City of Charlotte. The Office of Equity, Mobility and Immigrant Integration coordinates meetings of the Naturalize Charlotte Group.


Nonprofit support...


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. Leaders of these organizations were very generous with their time, meeting with Foster and William, offering feedback on the website, and ensuring the final product was accessible and accurate for clients. The Naturalize Charlotte website would also not have been possible without the support of Charlotte Country Day School, and in particular the Office of International Studies led by David Lynn. Country Day's Office of International Studies helped fund the beginning stages of the project, helped coordinate the Website Launch Event in October 2019, and hosted several Naturalize Charlotte meetings. From the project's beginning stages, Foster and William credit Lynn with ensuring they were equipped with the support they needed to bring their vision for Naturalize Charlotte to fruition.


Community support...

As Naturalize Charlotte has grown, support has also grown. Today, Naturalize Charlotte has support from all across the broader Charlotte community. Local Charlotte Rotary clubs have featured presentations on Naturalize Charlotte during their meetings and helped sponsor the Naturalize Charlotte Website Launch Event in October 2019. Meredith Dolhare, Executive Director of RunningWorks, has been particularly supportive of the Naturalize Charlotte project, connecting Foster and William to nonprofit leaders and resources. One of those connections was the Executive Director of Share Charlotte. Another sponsor of the Naturalize Charlotte Website Launch Event, Share Charlotte has been instrumental in spreading the word about Naturalize Charlotte and connecting volunteers to Naturalize Charlotte Member Organizations.


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CHARLOTTE

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