We were thrilled to see CitizenshipWorks join the ranks of 2012 Webby Award winners, taking its place alongside Epicurious, HBO and the Muppets (among others).  CitizenshipWorks, which provides free, easy-to-use online tools to help individuals navigate the naturalization process, won both the Best Law Site award and the People’s Voice Award (voted on by the public) in the Law category.  You can watch Matthew Burnett’s 5-word acceptance speech.

CitizenshipWorks helps users better understand the naturalization process, prepare for the naturalization tests, and find free or low-cost legal help with their naturalization application.  A separate part of the site available to nonprofits that provide free or low cost naturalization application services allows users to complete an interactive form that results in a completed Application for Naturalization.  This is currently being used in group processing workshops, which can now help more people.

The Webby Awards represent recognition for the hard work of those behind CitizenshipWorks – Pro Bono Net, the Immigration Advocates Network and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.  But the win also points out the importance of innovation in determining how to meet the expanding need for legal services.  CitizenshipWorks empowers users to learn about the naturalization process, assess their eligibility and find needed legal help via a national directory of service providers.  It also builds the capacity of nonprofit organizations, allowing them to work more efficiently by integrating technology-enabled services into what they offer.

Manuel J. Santamaria, grantmaking director at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a supporter of CitizenshipWorks, summed it up well: “CitizenshipWorks is a great illustration of how to use the power of technology to increase your impact.”

Looking ahead, we’ll be applying this model to other areas of need.  Which areas of law do you think offer the best potential?