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Michelle Mittelstadt
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Citi Community Development works with nonprofit and public-agency partners to reduce financial barriers to citizenship for eligible legal immigrants and to expand financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved low- and moderate-income individuals and communities.

Citi Community Development is a key supporter of Citizenship Maryland, a first-in-the-nation initiative supported by a major banking institution that offers microloans to help legal permanent residents (LPRs) who are eligible for citizenship afford the $680 application fees. The goal of the Maryland program, launched in 2011 and coordinated by CASA de Maryland, is to remove financial barriers to citizenship while also building participants’ financial knowledge. CASA de Maryland designed the Citizenship Maryland program, and Citi Community Development provided the staff and capital to develop, launch, and promote it. Citi also is joining with the New York mayor’s office and other partners in a recently announced New York Citizenship in Schools program, which replicates many aspects of the Citizenship Maryland program. The citizenship initiative will target naturalization-eligible immigrant families through a school setting.

Providing microloans to eligible applicants is just the first step in the Citizenship Maryland initiative. Loan recipients are required to participate in mandatory financial counseling based on a curriculum that focuses on financial capability and increasing savings. Low-income immigrants participating in the program, who are often unbanked or underbanked, build credit histories through repayment. And at final payment, their $25 loan application fee is deposited into their savings account to seed and encourage future savings.

Results from Citizenship Maryland are being incorporated into the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) financial inclusion agenda, which will promote policies that can provide low-income immigrants a path to sound banking relationships.

FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE: Financial Inclusion and Economic Empowerment for Emerging Americans

Citi Community Development’s work with community and public-agency partners such as CASA de Maryland, NCLR, Latino Economic Development Corporation, and New York City is intended to ease the financial cost of naturalization for legal permanent residents who aspire to be US citizens and are eligible for naturalization, as well as to foster economic empowerment. Citi’s support is enabling its partners to assist many legal immigrants develop not only a new national identity, but a new financial identity.

Latinos have the highest rate of poverty among every racial and ethnic group in the country, and nearly 20 percent of Latino households lack a basic bank account. Citizenship has demonstrated benefits in terms of opening new opportunities for education, jobs, and increased income (that translates into increased tax revenue). Thus, the economic integration of immigrants makes financial sense not just for themselves and their families but for the economy as a whole.

With Citi Community Development support, the Citizenship Maryland results are being carefully evaluated for replicability and will inform broader financial inclusion efforts around the nation through NCLR’s Wealth Building Policy Project. The project aims to provide low-income individuals and Latinos access to fair housing markets and financial products, build wealth, and provide lifelong financial security for themselves and the ability to share assets with the next generation.

The economic integration of immigrants into their communities and the US workforce is crucial to their success and ability to become full partners in society. The involvement of a major company such as Citi in these carefully designed and executed initiatives sets a powerful example of the roles that business can play in promoting immigrant integration.

Click below to learn more about Citi’s nonprofit partners in Maryland:

Program Leadership

Robert A. Annibale
Global Director, Citi Microfinance and Community Development

Robert Annibale manages Citi’s partnerships with global, national, and local organizations to support community development programs focused on responsible finance through financial inclusion, education, and asset building; neighborhood preservation and revitalization; access to college education; and small business and microenterprise development. Annibale also leads Citi’s commercial relationships with microfinance institutions, networks, and investors, working across businesses and geographies to expand access to financial services in underserved communities.

Since joining Citi in 1982, Annibale has held a number of senior treasury, risk, and corporate positions in Athens, Bahrain, Kenya, London, and New York. He has served on many external boards and councils, including the Board of Advisors for the United Nations Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. He is a member of the Policy Committee of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford. He represents Citi on the Boards of the Microfinance Information Exchange, the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CSFI), the Microfinance Network, the Citi Foundation, and the Executive Committee of CGAP (World Bank).

Annibale completed his BA degrees in history and political science at Vassar College, in New York, and his master’s degree in African studies (history) at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies.