Wednesday, March 29, 2017 | Updated at 10:56 AM ET

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Voto Latino to Help Legal Permanent Residents Understand Naturalization Process, Become US Citizens With New Tech Program

First Posted: Mar 07, 2015 09:34 AM EST
New American citizens register to vote

New American citizens register to vote (Photo : Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

With immigration being one of the top three issues among U.S. Latinos, Voto Latino announced its partnership with an online platform for lawful permanent residents to familiarize with the naturalization process and become U.S. citizens.

Developed by Pro Bono Net and Immigration Advocates Network, Citizenshipworks 2.0 is an online platform providing an "innovative us of technology to increase access to legal assistance and reduce language, geographic and economic barriers for low-and-moderate-income immigrant communities." Voto Latino, a nonprofit organization aimed to empower Latino millennials on American issues, will help promote and test the new version of Citizenshipworks.

The new Citizenshipworks.org platform, which includes a mobile app, will allow lawful permanent residents to verify their eligibility and complete their naturalization forms. The lawful permanent resident will have the option of finishing the forms on their own or connect to nonprofit legal providers in their area.

"Voto Latino provides Latino Millennials the tools and information they need to navigate America for themselves -- this includes educating lawful permanent residents in the citizenship process," said Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar. "We're excited to launch this new program with the New Americans Campaign and to work with Pro Bono Net and Immigration Advocates Network. By using their expertise, we hope to make the citizenship process clearer and attainable for so many aspiring Americans."

Pro Bono Net Co-Founder and Executive Director Mark O'Brien acknowledged that there are large numbers of young people who are eligible to be naturalized but have not taken the final step to become U.S. citizens.

"We are excited by the opportunity to partner with Voto Latino to develop effective digital strategies to reach young immigrants and their families, and help them take advantage of the benefits of citizenship, including the right to vote," added O'Brien.

Voto Latino's involvement with the tech program comes as the nonpartisan organization announced the winners of its Innovators Challenge, a tech competition for millennials -- an age group comprised of individuals between 18 and 34 years old.

Actor Wilmer Valderrama, who serves as Voto Latino's artist coalition co-chair, told Latin Post about the need to have Latinos, namely Latino millennials, involved in technology.

Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar with the organization's co-founder Rosario Dawson with actors American Ferrera, Adam Rodriguez and Wilmer Valderrama on March 4, 2015, during the Voto Latino 10th year anniversary event.
(Photo: Patty Shaw-Ramirez) Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar with the organization's co-founder Rosario Dawson with actors American Ferrera, Adam Rodriguez and Wilmer Valderrama on March 4, 2015, during the Voto Latino 10th year anniversary event.

"It's important to find those innovators because those innovators are the examples, those innovators are the leading voices that eventually allow all the young people to feel like there's a place for them, a place for the visions, a place for their dreams," said Valderrama.

"I think that finding those innovative, young Latin voices that basically say, 'Hey, you know I can think just as good as anybody else that's doing tech in the tech world.' It's inspiring for that next generation. I think, that to me, it's why we create more images of success because that is the permission to greatness that a lot of these young people need," continued Valderrama.

The actor spoke during Voto Latino's 10th year anniversary event from Washington, D.C., which named seven winner from its VL Innovators Challenge, who split a $500,000 grant funding for the finalists' respective tech developments, which ranged from mobile apps and online courses.

For more on the Voto Latino's Innovators Challenge and its winners, click here.

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For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: m.oleaga@latinpost.com.

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