The North Ward Center Family Success Center Helps Students Become U.S. Citizens

Since it began offering classes last year, The North Ward Family Success Center has helped more than a dozen students become naturalized citizens of the United States.

The Center launched the free citizenship preparation classes in November 2013 to help immigrants from Newark successfully pass the U.S. Naturalization Test, which has reading, writing and speaking components. Passing the test is a requirement of citizenship.

"We concentrate on teaching our participants the skills they will need to answer the 100 civics questions as well as pronouncing the English words in the civics test," said Wilson Martinez, the director of the Family Success Center. "We also teach them how to answer the personal questions."

The students also learn about body language and relaxation techniques so that the immigrants feel confident and less nervous during the interview process, said Gabriela Esquivel, the Instructor for the citizenship preparation class.

"For many immigrants, taking the test is an extremely stressful time," Esquivel said, adding that each student also receives personal coaching. "Every aspect of the interview is reviewed and reinforced throughout the series of classes in both English and Spanish. We have even been successful with individuals whose English skills are limited."

The Center also helped the students waive the $680 fee required for the application for naturalization, Wilson said.

The North Ward Family Success Center (NWFSC) is a collaborative effort with the state Department of Children and Families, the Division of Family and Community Partnerships, the City of Newark, and ten other Family Success Centers throughout the city. The primary objective is to effectively provide and refer participants to services needed by a child, parent, or family.

Adrianne Davis, the executive director of The North Ward Center, said the classes complement the other offerings of the Family Success Center.

"Taking the citizenship test is a crucial step toward becoming a citizen of our great country," Davis said. "We are proud to help these families become citizens so they can fully participate in the American dream."