University YMCA
University YMCAthe Y | service, reflection and action since 1873
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

New American Welcome Center


The Y was created by young people trying to navigate their way in a new city—far from family, friends and a familiar way of life. This premise has extended throughout our history. Welcoming and engaging newcomers continues today with Ys across the United States offering people the integration support they need to better transition well into their new communities.

The YMCA’s New American Welcome Centers (NAWC) are designed to help immigrants—also referred to as newcomers—fully integrate into American society and prepare receiving communities to be welcoming and inclusive. NAWCs accomplish this through a combination of integration services, collaborations with community leaders and businesses, and strategies to connect and build cross-cultural understanding between immigrants and U.S.-born residents. Learn more about the Y's New Americans Welcome Center model by reading this New American Welcome Centers Overview (pdf).


Who will be served by the New American Welcome Center? The NAWC will serve all newcomers and immigrants in our community without regard to their legal status. As noted, the Y is a global organization with an inclusive mission that welcomes all people.

What types of services will be offered through the New American Welcome Center? The University Y will continue to support immigrants through existing programs such as La Linea, our Spanish language community helpline and our New Americans Initiative that does outreach and support to immigrant community about becoming U.S. citizens. But an important step in developing the New American Welcome Center will be identifying needs as well as gaps in services in an effort to strengthen and possibly expand services to meet the needs of local immigrant communities. Our emphasis will be on five pathways of integration – Language & Education, Health & Well-being, Citizenship & Civic Engagement, Economic Integration & Employment, and Community Development.

Where will the NAWC be located? The NAWC is both a physical and virtual space. An important part of our work will be to ensure that all of our community institutions are actively engaged in being part of a welcoming community. Thismeans that the programs and services of the NAWC will not be contained in one building or location but rather integrated in all aspects of life in our community. However, one of the goals of the center will be to ensure that services for immigrants are easy to access. In that regard, we anticipate that one of the projects might include identifying a location in our community that can house a variety of agencies that actively serve immigrants and refugees to make those services more accessible and easier to utilize.

To read the University YMCA's Frequently Asked Questions document in full please click here (pdf).


The New Americans Initiative

The New Americans Initiative is a non-profit partnership between the State of Illinois and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to help you through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, with FREE assistance.

U.S. citizenship is the path to full participation in our nation. You can vote, travel freely, protect yourself and your family members from the possibility of deportation, petition to unite with other family members, hold a wider range of jobs, and have access to all of the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of a full member of the United States of America.

The New Americans Initiative of the University YMCA also assists Illinois residents in applying for Deferred Action (DACA).

What services does the Y's New Americans Initiative provide?

The New Americans Initiative, a non-profit partnership
with the state of Illinois provides FREE* services such as:

· Presenting information on the naturalization process
· Providing a checklist of the documents needed
· Assisting you with an overview of the (N-400) application
· Helping you learn more about “application fee” waiver options (i-912) to help you cover the cost of the filing fee
· Providing legal referrals and legal resources, including low-cost or pro-bono legal services
· Providing friendly advice and assistance until your oath ceremony

Avoid Immigration Scams. Find more information about the naturalization process including all the forms, fees, and more on the official U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servics website at and find qualified immigration attorneys in Illinois at:

The Y cannot provide you legal advice, but we can provide helpful referrals and give you non-legal, community-focused advice. Questions? Contact Gloria Yen by email at or by phone at217-337-1500. For assistance in Spanish or French (or to request other language assistance), contact the Y's La Linea Community Helpline program which provides over-the-phone referrals to social services and other community resources in Champaign County.

La Línea Community Helpline Program

The University YMCA's La Línea Community Helpline is a Spanish/French/English helpline that specializes in over-the-phone community resource referrals and in-person advocacy counseling. La Línea is a free and confidential community helpline that works to bridge the gap in social services in Champaign County. Call us at 217-417-5897 anytime day or night and leave a message with us about any help you need. We'll get back to you within one business day.

Community members call to receive more information and identify resources about a number of topics including (but not limited to): ?Child Support, Emergency Childcare, Immigration, Legal Assistance, DACA and other Immigration Legal Assistance, TVDL Assistance, Education, Employment Issues, General Information, Healthcare, Housing, Interpretation, Job Preparation, Mental Health, Work Permit, Food and Clothing Assistance. When providing referrals, we strive to provide referrals to free or affordable options that match the caller's budget. For more information, visit:

Questions about the New American Welcome Center? Contact Gloria Yen, New American Program Coordinator at or at 217-337-1500.