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FaithAction ID Card Program - Turning Strangers into Neighbors!

An ID is just a piece of plastic, until a human being gives it a name, face, and a story, and a community gives it value.

Photo of David Fraccaro
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

FaithAction is an innovative nonprofit located in downtown Greensboro, NC that serves thousands of new immigrants each year, while educating and connecting our diverse community across lines of culture and faith - turning strangers into neighbors. Six years ago we began a community based ID card program to provide a verifiable form of ID to those without limited access to government issued forms of ID. Without reliable identification in the US, it is as if you don't exist; you have access to nothing. There are few states in the US that provide driver's licenses or state ID to immigrants with limited or no status, leaving millions in limbo and with limited access to services crucial to a person's safety and well being. FaithAction was able to gain the trust of local law enforcement, health centers, schools, city agencies, and business to utilize the ID as a tool to better identify, serve, and protect our diverse community. FaithAction utilizes a FaithAction ID drive and dialogue model, where hundreds of participants arrive at a local house of worship or school, receive a number and a brief orientation on the benefits and limitations of the card, then have their required documents checked and picture taken. While participants wait, local law enforcement and other supportive sectors all attend to provide trust building dialogue, addressing issues such as: Will I be treated any differently than others by an officer, or at a hospital or school? Time and again the answer has been - You are a part of our community, we are glad you are here, and we want to build greater trust and cooperation with you. Surveys have shown just how impactful this program has been in increasing access to services, while creating safer, more inclusive communities for all. 6 years later, and we have expanded the program to over 25 cities across the state and nation. We have an innovative, effective and affordable model that can be easily replicated in cities across the nation and globe.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Over the past 6 years, the FaithAction ID program and network has grown from Greensboro, NC to over 20 urban and rural communities throughout North Carolina, as well as Cincinnati, OH, Charlottesville, VA, Gainesville and West Palm Beach, FL, Ames, IA, and Hood River, OR. We continue to receive requests from small towns (ex: Fairfax, VA) and large cities (ex: Miami, FL) across the US, and believe the FaithAction ID drive and dialogue model can be replicated in other nations in the coming years!

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Our goal from the beginning of this program was to build greater understanding, trust, and cooperation between our diverse newcomer community and local law enforcement (and other local sectors, including health centers, schools, city agencies, and businesses). At a time of great fear and concern in our nation, the FaithAction ID card program brings our diverse community together for monthly ID drives and dialogues that lead to measurably safer, healthier, more inclusive communities for all!

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Over 25% (11 million) of immigrants in the US have no immigration status, and current laws provide no legal pathway forward. The majority of these individuals fled devastating poverty and violence, and are trying to create a better future for themselves and their children. Most face significant challenges, especially in towns and cities in the Midwest and Southeast, including: learning a new language and culture, living below the poverty line, having little to no access to social services, and facing tremendous fear and discrimination. The FaithAction ID card program is a nonprofit run ID initiative primarily for communities that may not have the political will or financial means for a municipal ID card program (like several northern US cities) that law enforcement, health centers, schools, and city agencies agree to accept - creating much greater dignity, access, and assistance for our newest neighbors, and a greater sense of community trust and belonging for all.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Over the past 6 years, we have interviewed hundreds of ID card holders and over 95% have found the card to be very useful (ex: proving identity with law enforcement and avoiding unnecessary arrest and detention, checking in for health appointments, registering children for school) and over 95% also shared the card has made them feel safer (more willing to contact local law enforcement if victims of a crime) and more a part of the community. On the other side of the equation, local law enforcement have reported receiving greater help reporting and resolving crimes from the immigrant community (and more interest from immigrants in joining the police department), and health centers and schools feel better equipped to serve and integrate their diverse community. While we have expanded tremendously over the last few years, despite limited capacity, we know there are hundreds more communities across the US and world that could benefit tremendously from this program now and into the future.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

At FaithAction, we serve over 3,000 new immigrants from over 60 nations each year. The majority have limited or no status, and face significant challenges. They are also some of the most innovative and resilient people in our community. We've learned over the past 20 years that when you offer our immigrant clients and friends welcome and hospitality, they generally pay it back and go on to become some of our most loyal, hard working residents. At the same time, we recognize that misinformed and harmful stories many existing citizens have about our newest neighbors, so we spend a significant amount of time providing over 75 trainings and presentations each year to faith communities, schools, and city agencies on immigration and diversity. We have found with the right education and relationships with newcomers, many of these citizens have their hearts and minds transformed and go on to become strong advocates alongside our immigrant community. This is how strangers become neighbors!

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Greensboro, the city where FaithAction and the ID program started, has experienced a 750% increase in our immigrant population over the last 25 years, bringing tremendous new ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. This diversity comes on top of what has been a complex, often troubling history between African Americans and the white population across the state. In the midst of these changes, we believe each community has a crucial choice to make - will we fear one another as strangers or embrace one another as neighbors? How we answer this question will have a significant impact on our economic, social cultural future for generations to come. We continue to expand the FaithAction ID network to big and small communities with similar stories of change and urgency across the nation. What happens in one community has implications for the others. The FaithAction ID program has been incredibly effective at getting the entire community to work together for a better city for all!

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

All of the 25 diverse communities we have expanded the FaithAction ID program to in 6 different states have had strong and diverse immigrant and faith communities that have partnered alongside trusted and established nonprofits to launch the program. They have also had open and willing law enforcement departments, health centers, and schools that recognize the mutually beneficial impacts of the program.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

There are numerous partners involved in making the FaithAction ID program and network a success, as this is truly a community wide effort. Immigrant and faith leaders are crucial to helping make the case for a community ID program, and hosting ID drives and dialogues. Trusted nonprofits are essential to coordinating and staffing the program. Law enforcement, health centers, schools, and city agencies are key to giving the ID value, by agreeing to accept it and participating in trust building dialogue during the ID drives. Numerous businesses can also agree to offer unique discounts and benefits to ID card holders (ex: half off Children's Museum membership) that help create a greater sense of community and belonging for our newest immigrant neighbors. Finally, it is important to note that the FaithAction ID card program is not just for immigrants, but homeless, trans, and elderly communities, those returning from jail, and anyone who believes in a diverse and inclusive community!

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Majority Adoption: We have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base (i.e. 50% to 83% of the target population or 50,000 to 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

The FaithAction ID Network currently operates in over 20 communities in North Carolina, as well as Aiken, SC, West Palm Beach, FL, Cincinnati, OH, Charlottesville, VA, Ames, IA, and Hood River, OR.

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

FaithAction is an innovative nonprofit located in downtown Greensboro, NC. We serve over 3,000 new immigrants from over 60 diverse nations each year. Our diverse staff (may who are immigrants themselves) treat each client with dignity and respect, regardless of culture, faith, status, or sexual orientation. While our clients face significant challenges, they also have tremendous gifts to offer our community. We have become experts in assisting those with limited or no immigration status, while educating existing citizens and helping to transform their hearts and minds on issues of immigration and diversity. While our ID program is only one of over a dozen different services we provide (including: food, housing, health, legal services, detention visitation, etc....), it is a flagship program that has helped put FaithAction on the map for innovators in immigrant integration and trust building with law enforcement, health centers, and others - turning strangers into neighbors!

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States of America

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Greensboro, NC

In preparation for expert feedback: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in these categories? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea. (600 characters)

1) While we've had great success expanding our program in communities across the US, what unique challenges might there be in implementing the FaithAction ID program model in other countries? 2) New programs often receive 500 participants at ID drives, which can require very long waits for participants. How could we make the process quicker and more efficient, while maintaining the integrity of the program? 3) Not every community may have the financial resources to ensure the integrity and sustainability of the program. What are some ways to make the program even more affordable?

Did you use the resources offered during the Improve Phase (mentorship, expert feedback, community research)? (2000 characters)

We benefited tremendously from conversations with mentors, experts, and community members throughout the Improve phase of this process. Our mentor is an asylum seeker living in the Basque region of Spain, with tremendous insight into human rights and the immigrant experience. While the social cultural and political contexts of the US and Spain are quite different, we discovered the urgent need for a reliable form of identification is very much the same for immigrants and asylum seekers with limited or no immigration status in both countries. We discussed the FaithAction ID drive and dialogue process in greater detail, and explored what would be easily transferable, and what new challenges might arise in replicating the process in Spain and other parts of Europe. He strongly believed the community dialogue part of the FaithAction ID drives between newcomers and law enforcement was just as valuable as the ID card itself, and agreed initiatives like this are essential to building trust and ensuring the safety and well-being of immigrants throughout the world. He encouraged us to place even more effort into the community education and dialogue part of the ID drives, and to consider international expansion into Europe in the near future (he'd be a great partner)! We also received very helpful feedback from our expert, who provided more of a sustainable business perspective. He especially encouraged us to do deep analyzation of the benefits and challenges of expanding in the US before expanding internationally, and provided some great ideas for the long term financial sustainability of our program. We also held 2 ID drives during the Improve phase, including our first drive for the immigrant trans community (including a "preferred name" addition to the card), and experimented with a new expedited line for those renewing their ID cards. We partnered with Guilford College students to survey all returning participants, and received invaluable feedback!

In what ways would potential BridgeBuilder funds allow you to pursue your idea that other funding opportunities have not? (1000 characters)

While FaithAction is a relatively small organization (8 staff), we have been able to successfully expand the FaithAction ID program to 20 communities within NC, and 8 cities in 6 additional states over the past 4 years with $50,000/year. Connecting with OpenIDEO has already provided valuable new contacts nationally and internationally, and if we were awarded BridgeBuilder funds it would at least double our financial capacity to expand the ID network! We continue to receive requests for new partnerships (ex: Raleigh, Miami, Boulder), but are not always able to respond as efficiently as we'd like given the demands of our daily service work in Greensboro. BridgeBuilder funds would allow us to add new staff primarily focused on the expansion of the ID program and network, as well as consultants to help us analyze and strategize for the future. Funds would also provide invaluable seed funding to new partner communities with limited resources, as well as travel and yearly network retreats.

What aspects or proportion of the overall idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (1000 characters)

We envision BridgeBuilder funds primarily supporting and strengthening 3 areas of the FaithAction ID program and network. 1) 60% of funding would support the creation of a new position focused on the strategic expansion of the FaithAction ID network, specifically providing outreach and education to new potential community partners, and managing bi-monthly calls and a yearly retreat amongst ID network members. This funding would also cover work with a consultant towards a deeper analyzation of the impact and challenges of network programs, as well as opportunities for strategic expansion. 2). 25% of funding would support seed grants for new communities with limited financial resources that could be used to help purchase initial ID equipment (ex: computers, databases, and printers) and ongoing technical assistance. 3). The remaining 15% would support staff travel to new partner sites, as well as bi-monthly network calls, and a yearly retreat (ex: subsidizing travel and housing).

What are the key steps or activities for your idea for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (1000 characters)

We are confident that BridgeBuilder funds and OpenIDEO connections will provide a major boost for strengthening and expanding the FaithAction ID program and network for at least the next 2 years (and well beyond), and anticipate the following next steps and goals: 2020 - Hire one new staff member tasked with ID program outreach and education, and a 6 month consultant to analyze impact and challenges of expansion, and introduce both at the Spring in-person network retreat. Train 3-4 new communities in the US in the summer/fall, that will launch their programs by the end of 2020 (providing seed funds for tech assistance as needed), and begin conversations with a potential future international partner, likely in Europe. 2021- Given our new capacity and clarity, we will train and launch new ID programs in 6-8 new communities throughout the year (with a focus in the Mid and Southwest US) . We will also train and welcome our first international partner by the end of 2021!

What will community-level impact look like over the timeframe of your idea? How will you determine whether or not you have achieved that impact? And what outstanding questions do you still have? (1000 characters)

Impact: By the end of 2021, we will have established at least 10 new community ID programs based on the FaithAction ID drive and dialogue model - increasing the total number of network programs to 35 across the US, and celebrating our first international partner. These programs will significantly increase the access, safety, and well-being of tens of thousands of newcomers without access to government issued ID cards, while creating more inclusive and united communities for all. Measurement: We will survey at least 1,000 ID drive participants, tracking how the ID has increased access to and trust with law enforcement, city services, health centers, and businesses, and to what degree that ID has helped them feel safer and more a part of the community. Question: How can the FaithAction ID model be adapted to more challenging contexts (politically, culturally, and religiously) outside the United States, and is it sustainable in countries with limited money and infrastructure?

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (1000 characters)

Each FaithAction ID network program relies upon the unique partnership of several community groups to make the program a success (see pic and video). This includes: 1) a lead organization (primarily nonprofits) responsible for implementing and coordinating ID drives, 2) local immigrant and faith communities that host ID drives, provide volunteers, and help facilitate trust building dialogues, and 3) supporting community partners (law enforcement, city agencies, health centers, and businesses) that agree to accept the ID and participate in dialogue and education at ID drives. FaithAction Executive Director, David Fraccaro will continue leading the network expansion effort as the primary network trainer and coordinator alongside new and existing staff. He holds Master's degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University (human rights focus), and has 15 years of impactful experience serving, educating, and connecting diverse communities across the US (and the world).

Lastly, how did you apply new learnings to your idea? (1000 characters)

The invaluable feedback we received from our assigned mentor and expert inspired us to rethink parts of our proposal and try new initiatives within our ID drives. 1) We are now planning to work with a consultant to conduct greater research on the impact and challenges of the program, and create a clearer expansion strategy for the network based on our findings. 2) We have now set the goal of expanding internationally within the next 2 years (perhaps in Spain), and to put even more resources into the community building education and dialogue that takes place during the ID drives. 3) We devoted more time for police/community dialogue during recent ID drives, as well as a new expedited line for those renewing their cards and a "preferred name" category for trans participants. We surveyed willing participants (with the help of Guilford College students) and 100% affirmed the value of the card and ID drive process, and expressed great appreciation of each of the new changes!


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nate Wong

Hello! I'm your assigned expert, Nate. This is such an interesting idea and it's so great to hear how much success you've been having here. Here's my attempt to answer your questions from my background/context.

1) While we've had great success expanding our program in communities across the US, what unique challenges might there be in implementing the FaithAction ID program model in other countries?
> Before even thinking about other countries, it'd be important to better dissect that were the success ingredients that make this work in the communities you've been part of in the US. I think that'll be key to determine what are the critical aspects that are necessary before you can implement this program in any other area. It's worth an exercise to essentially map out your key assumptions or things that all of your communities have in common when this program launched there. And probably, more importantly are there any counter-examples where the program was not as successful because certain criteria wasn't met. Things that I was thinking about include: 1) type of residents (illegal, migrants, etc.), 2) current relationship between residents and public sector, 3) receptivity of public sector, 4) faith community and relationship between residents and faith community, etc. These I think would be important factors. When you apply this to other countries, you'll need to layer on how the public sector functions and the importance of IDs and even faith organizations vs. others.

2) New programs often receive 500 participants at ID drives, which can require very long waits for participants. How could we make the process quicker and more efficient, while maintaining the integrity of the program?
> Without fully knowing the behind the scenes process, I think there could be a few options here: 1) for larger communities, there could be a two part drive where the first part is equipping key community leaders with the ID and to become ambassadors to help out with a larger drive so you can essentially multiply the person-power to do this; 2) possibly use some type of technology to aid in the capture of information (although I'm not sure if this would actually be well received, so it'll have to be tested). Essentially, the key thing to focus on are what are your binding constraints or choke points in the process and then how to remove those or provide more capacity for those parts of the process.

3) Not every community may have the financial resources to ensure the integrity and sustainability of the program. What are some ways to make the program even more affordable?
> Firstly, I think it'll be important to be clear around the cost it will take to pull off this program effectively and sustainably (non-profits and social sector organizations in some ways often hide the real costs of implementing a program to get buy-in/ funding, which doesn't do anyone a favor in the long-run). As hard as it may be to not implement this in communities that don't have the resources, I think it could be a even harder proposition to execute this in communities where there may not be resources. I would also suggest providing a few resources around how community groups can advocate and get more funding (e.g., collateral and resources to give pitches to community foundations, public sector groups, etc.). You may also want to consider a national type of partner that may fund some of this, such as Bloomberg Philanthropies or other city-focused groups (check out Mayors Challenge to see a few ideas that are similar that were done by other cities that could be interesting) to get funding, etc.

Photo of David Fraccaro

Hi Nate, thank you very much for your very thoughtful and thorough feedback. My apologies for the delay in getting back....we have been responding to numerous detention and deportation cases at work. You've provided new perspective and insight that has helped us think more deeply through the Improve phase of this process. I especially appreciate your thinking protectively of the program (deeper analyzation of US trends before expanding internationally, not moving forward in certain communities without adequate, sustainable funding). Given the steady, successful expansion of the FaithAction ID program and network over the last 6 years, we feel confident that a national funding partner could take this initiative to the next level in many of the ways you've recommended. Thank you again for your time and expertise, and hope we can connect again into the future.

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