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Office for New Americans ONA Opportunity Center Grant

Grants to New York Nonprofits in Eligible Counties
to Create Resource Centers for New Immigrants

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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New York State Department of State (DOS) - New York State Office for New Americans (ONA)

Deadline Date:

01/15/19 Receipt


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Grants of up to $80,800 to New York nonprofit organizations to develop neighborhood resource centers in eligible counties that assist new immigrants with the naturalization and citizenship process. Eligible programs will provide free workshops, classes, and legal assistance to eligible new Americans.

The Request for Applications (RFA) seeks organizations within New York State to comprise a network of neighborhood-based “ONA Opportunity Centers” to offer programming to help interested eligible new Americans through the naturalization application process, provide citizenship classes, provide community workshops on relevant topics to the immigrant communities being serviced, and host free legal consultations in conjunction with the ONA Legal Counsel.

Eligible counties for establishing ONA Opportunity Centers include Albany, Bronx, Broome, Clinton, Dutchess, Erie, Kings, Monroe, Nassau, New York, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Tompkins, Tioga, and Westchester.


This RFA seeks to fund approximately 25 sites managed by not-for-profit organizations capable of hosting an ONA Opportunity Center on their premises beginning May 1, 2019. Working with an ONA Legal Counsel assigned by the Office for New Americans, each ONA Opportunity Center will have a unique space within the host organization, which will be designated by branded signage. Each ONA Site will provide and/or deliver all of the following services:

1. Naturalization assistance services;
2. Legal consultation services;
3. Community Workshops on issues relevant and of interest to the new American communities;
4. Citizenship preparation classes; and
5. Workshops on immigration law or federal immigration policy issues.

Additionally, each ONA site must:

1. Utilize volunteers
2. Promote the ONA hotline
3. Participate in ONA webinars

Each ONA Opportunity Center will be provided with a qualified and experienced immigration attorney, the ONA Legal Counsel, to assist with the naturalization application process and provide free legal consultations to clients. The ONA Legal Counsel will be provided at no cost to the ONA Opportunity Center.

All services provided under this grant will be free of charge to clients. Grantees are not allowed to charge clients for participation in any of the services offered under this grant. Each ONA Opportunity Center will be permitted to provide services to new Americans regardless of where in New York State the client resides.

Naturalization Assistance

Nearly one million New Yorkers are eligible to naturalize but have not yet applied. Each ONA Opportunity Center will assist new Americans with the naturalization process. ONA will assist those foreign-born New Yorkers who yearn to be U.S. Citizens in achieving their dream.

The ONA Opportunity Centers will assist new Americans with citizenship applications, including N400 and N600 applications, and DACA applications on a rolling basis. From these efforts, and from hosting immigration law consultation days, each ONA Opportunity Center must recruit and assist enough clients with naturalizations and DACA applications to enable the Opportunity Center to submit at least 100 total applications to USCIS per year. The ONA Opportunity Center staff will be expected to aid processing naturalization and DACA applications both at the ONA Opportunity Center and at ONA sponsored events within the designated service region.

All ONA Opportunity Centers must be a DOJ recognized institution and remain in active status throughout the entirety of the grant. Citizenship and DACA applications must be prepared by qualified DOJ accredited representatives or an immigration attorney.

The ONA Opportunity Centers will collaborate with the ONA Legal Counsels to ensure legal review of the citizenship applications process prior to submission to USCIS. Challenging cases should be referred to the ONA Legal Counsel for individual consultation and processing.

All ONA Opportunity Centers must provide information to clients on resources available to finance naturalization applications (i.e. microloans). Each ONA Opportunity Center will be provided with training and technical support for the use of CitizenshipWorks, including consulting on how to best integrate the platform into existing workflows, best practices, and lessons learned from other programs using CitizenshipWorks. This assistance is optional and provided to all interested ONA Opportunity Centers at no cost to the ONA Opportunity Center.

Legal Consultation

Each ONA Opportunity Center will host a minimum of 10 immigration law consultation days per year, in conjunction with the assigned ONA Legal Counsel. These consultations are full-day sessions in which the ONA Legal Counsel will meet one-on-one with new Americans to discuss immigration law questions. These one-time meetings are not expected to create ongoing attorney-client relationships between the participating attorneys and the persons served.

Consultation Days are to be conducted so that clients meet with the ONA Legal Counsel in person. Phone consultations are not permitted, unless there is a circumstance in which the Legal Counsel is physically unable to drive (i.e. major weather disaster, etc.) and extenuating circumstances exist. All such circumstances will require DOS/ONA pre-approval.

The ONA Opportunity Centers will work with their assigned ONA Legal Counsel to schedule mutually convenient legal consultation days held periodically throughout the year, and the ONA Opportunity Center staff will schedule legal consultation appointments for the ONA Legal Counsel throughout the day. The ONA Opportunity Centers will oversee the management/scheduling of these appointments. ONA Opportunity Centers will publicize the availability of immigration law consultation services at the ONA Opportunity Centers, schedule client consultations, and manage walk-in clients during consultation hours.

Outreach for these legal consultation days and general information about the people served will be documented by the ONA Opportunity Center and made available to DOS/ONA upon request.

Community Workshops

To address the chronic misinformation and lack of information in immigrant communities regarding access to and navigation of existing government services, ONA Opportunity Centers will be required to offer workshops to provide new Americans with reliable information necessary to fully participate in their communities. ONA Opportunity Centers must provide new Americans with information about civic and community engagement opportunities through eight (8) immigrant assistance workshops a year at a minimum, to cover topics including, but not limited to, information about parent engagement with schools, financial literacy, disaster preparedness, consumer fraud protection, and educational opportunities for immigrants and their children.

All workshop topics should be designed based on needs assessments and other surveys of the new Americans in the communities the grantee serves. Each seminar should have a minimum of eight (8) participants. If the minimum number of participants is not met, the seminar will not count towards the workshop requirement under this grant.

Workshops may be facilitated by either paid staff at the ONA Opportunity Center or by volunteers who are experts in the topic. ONA Opportunity Centers may invite other community based organizations and government agencies to present at community workshops. At least one (1) workshop a year will be on the topic of access to ESOL resources. The ONA Opportunity Center must provide ESOL referrals to clients as needed as well as provide information on ONA’s English language cell phone based program.

All workshops must be pre-approved by ONA prior to being held. Each seminar topic must be developed based on interest and need within the community. Additionally, it is strongly encouraged that seminars be held throughout the year, and not all held within the final quarter of the year.

Citizenship Preparation Classes

Each ONA Opportunity Center will offer at least one Citizenship Preparation class quarterly. Classes must be offered free of charge to clients and geared towards green card holders who are preparing for the naturalization test.

Each class must have at minimum 8-10 students and be offered weekly for two (2) hours a week for a minimum of 10 weeks in a quarter. Topics must include United States civics, history, and government and focus on preparation for the 100 questions on the naturalization exam. Classes should be taught by highly qualified individuals, either paid or volunteer and should also include time for practice for the citizenship interview.

Immigration Law/Federal Immigration Policy Workshops

Each ONA Opportunity Center will host a minimum of four (4) seminars covering immigration law and information on federal immigration policies. Prior to the seminar, the assigned ONA Legal Counsel must review and approve in writing the information to be shared. An immigration attorney, either the ONA Legal Counsel or an immigration attorney of similar experience selected by the Opportunity Center, must be present during the seminar to answer any legal questions. These workshops will be in addition to the legal workshops required by the ONA Legal Counsel under their grant.

Possible topics for seminars could include:

- Developing a family emergency plan;
- Designating a power of attorney;
- Knowing your rights and responsibilities if immigration officers come to your home or your place of work;
- What to do if you are arrested;
- How to find a family member in detention;
- Consular services for applicable communities.

General overviews which focus solely on the immigration process, such as how to apply for naturalization, will not be counted towards the community seminar requirement, unless done in conjunction with USCIS. DOS/ONA considers these types of seminars to be included as part of outreach for the legal services portion of the grant.

Each seminar topic must be developed based on interest and need within the community. Additionally, it is strongly encouraged that seminars be held throughout the year, and not all held within the final quarter of the year.


ONA Opportunity Centers must recruit volunteers to assist with grant requirements. Volunteers can assist in completing citizenship applications to the extent that they are allowed, and serve as teachers or assistants in the Citizenship Preparation classes. ONA Opportunity Centers are encouraged to use volunteers who are immigration attorneys to assist with workshops. Volunteers can either serve as lead facilitator on a topic, or co-facilitate and be available to answer questions. Volunteers can also assist with administrative support, registration, and outreach assistance for the activities of this program.

All ONA Opportunity Center volunteers are required to sign confidentiality agreements to protect client information.

ONA Hotline

Each ONA Opportunity Center will advise clients of the Office for New Americans’ multi-lingual, toll-free immigration assistance hotline, which responds to general questions about immigration and naturalization benefits, requirements, and procedures.

ONA Opportunity Centers will be expected to share contact information, citizenship preparation class schedule, and scheduled legal consultation days with the ONA hotline. ONA Webinars At least one representative from each ONA Opportunity Center will be required to participate in the DOS/ONA webinar program. On average these webinars are held on a monthly basis to assist and connect the ONA Network agencies with state and, at times, national immigrant services, as well as provide the most up to date information on relevant programs affecting the immigrant community.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184755

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants may apply for up to $80,800 for funding in the initial year.

Term of Contract:

Grant awards will have a start date of approximately May 1, 2019.

The project period under this RFA is one year with the option of one one-year renewal based on funding availability and performance. Failure to incur all expenses or complete all identified outcomes in the stated period may result in loss or recapture of funds.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Not-for-profit organizations located within New York State are eligible for funding under this RFA. Not-forprofit organization shall mean any not-for-profit corporation exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All applicants must have been operating continuously for the last three (3) years, and have not been debarred from contracting with the State or federal government in the past three (3) years.

Subcontractor Eligibility Requirements:
Subcontractors must be not-for-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) IRS status who have been in continued existence for at least three (3) years who have not been debarred from contracting with the State or federal government in the past three (3) years. If the subcontractor is aiding with the completion of naturalization applications, the subcontractor must be DOJ recognized and in active status at the time of submission and remain so during the entirety of the grant. All staff performing this work via a subcontractor must be either an immigration attorney or a DOJ accredited representative with the subcontractor’s organization.

Please note that eligible organizations applying to host an ONA Opportunity Center are not restricted from applying to other ONA network grants. Eligible organizations applying to host an ONA Opportunity Center are also not restricted from applying to host more than one ONA Opportunity Center, however, multiple ONA Opportunity Centers cannot be in the same zip code. Further, if an organization wishes to host more than one ONA Opportunity Center, the organization must submit all required application documentation separately for each proposed ONA Opportunity Center and these applications cannot reference each other.

The following costs are not allowable for reimbursement under this grant:

1. Capital expenses, including but not limited to non-personal service expenditures for the purchase, development, installation, and maintenance of real estate or other real property
2. Taxes, payments in lieu of taxes, or assessments paid to any unit of government
3. Equipment rental, depreciation and interest expenses, including expenditures for vehicles and fixed, major movable and adaptive equipment and equipment that is expensed (rather than depreciated) in cost reports
4. Expenses of an amount greater than $10,000 that would otherwise be administrative, except that they are either non-recurring (no more frequent than once every five years) or not anticipated by a covered provider (e.g., litigation- related expenses). Such expenses shall not be considered administrative
expenses or program expenses for purposes of this regulation
5. That portion of the salaries and benefits of staff performing policy development or research
6. Contingency provisions
7. Fines and penalties
8. Bad debts
9. Donations or contributions
10. Entertainment costs, including but not limited to food and beverages for clients, volunteers, and/or staff
11. Idle facilities and idle capacity
12. Interest expenses
13. Lobbying expenses
14. Losses on other sponsored agreements or contracts
15. Costs of fundraising, including financial campaigns, endowment drives, solicitation of gifts and bequests, meetings relating to fundraising, and similar expenses incurred solely to raise capital or obtain contributions
16. Profit/Fee is not allowable except when subcontracting for routine goods and services with commercial organizations
17. Out of State and Foreign travel
18. Pre-award costs
19. Funding for proposal development
20. Advertising for purposes other than the recruitment of clients
21. Public relations, other than for reporting to ONA

Pre-Application Information:

Key Dates:

- Release Date: November 5, 2018
- Questions Due: November 19, 2018
- Updates and Questions Posted: December 4, 2018 (Revised)
- Funding Proposal Due Dates: January 15, 2019 (Revised)

All questions regarding this competitive grant program must be submitted in writing, and received on or before the Questions Due date as stated on the cover of the RFA. All e-mails should clearly indicate in the subject line: ONA Opportunity Centers Application 18-ONA-32, General Question.

One signed and complete original application, and three complete copies must be submitted and received by the due date and time listed on the cover page.

All applicants must be pre-qualified within the Grants Gateway by the application due date.

All applicants must be U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recognized and in active status at the time of submission. For more information on the DOJ recognition and accreditation process, please visit the U.S. Department of Justice webpage (

For applicants engaging subcontractors to work under this grant, the applicant must provide at least 25% of direct programming. All applicants intending to subcontract work under this grant must complete and execute a letter of intent with each subcontractor that specifies all services each partner agrees to provide. This letter of intent must be submitted with the application.

The contractor may receive a 25% advance of the initial period upon request. Thereafter, each grantee will be reimbursed for expenses incurred pursuant to grant related activities including salary, benefits, travel, and related expenses.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Application package must be submitted to:

Ms. Catherine Traina RFA #18-ONA-32
Contract Administration Unit
New York Department of State
Bureau of Fiscal Management
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Ave, Suite 1110
Albany, NY 12231

General Program Information/Inquiry:

New York State Office for New Americans
123 William Street, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10038

Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: New York City: Bronx, Kings, Queens, New York, and Richmond Counties;   New York: Albany, Broome, Clinton, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk, Tompkins, Tioga, and Westchester Counties