MARCC ID Card: Strengthening Communities and Partners

Since Mayor John Cranley’s 2015 announcement affirming his commitment to making Cincinnati the most immigrant-friendly city, Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio was at the forefront of this endeavor.

Cranley assembled a task force to write Cincinnati’s welcoming plan, which included creating a community ID as a priority initiative. Alisa Berry, chief operating officer of the CLINIC affiliate, in particular, was instrumental in turning this goal and legislative premise into action.

The city of Cincinnati worked with FaithAction International House, another CLINIC affiliate, in Greensboro, North Carolina, to adapt a model they had already successfully implemented.

Cincinnati’s ID is supported and developed by the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, also known as MARCC, a coalition of 17 local faith groups. Together, they raised the card’s $10,000 start-up funding.

The ID became available to all Cincinnati residents last August, and is especially useful to those who lack the ability to obtain a government-issued form of identification. Overall, community identification cards have been shown to increase trust between residents and local government agencies, especially the police. This initiative allows more people to obtain community services and engage with service providers. The ID, also, is being used to eradicate stigmas around previously issued identification documents.

Through a resolution by the Cincinnati City Council, the MARCC Card serves as valid identification for city agencies and services such as the water department, health and medical clinics, WIC programs and the police department. Although the card does not offer any benefits to local businesses yet, that is a goal for 2018.

Catholic Charities held their first community ID drive on Aug. 16, 2016. Demand was so high – nearly 600 people attended – that applicants slept overnight in line. Due to the overwhelming turnout, CCSWOH prepared an additional 350 ID cards and held an extra distribution day. To date, the MARCC card has been given to 1,100 Cincinnati residents and drives are held monthly at a local high school.

In order to receive a card, applicants must provide some previous form of identification, such as passports, expired drivers licenses or foreign national ID cards; proof of residency in the last three months using utilities, health records or lease agreements; and a $15 registration fee.

Once processed, Catholic Charities mails the MARCC card to the applicant.

Immigrant integration is a complex process that occurs most significantly at the local level. Each organization has a role to play in encouraging and promoting immigrant integration. CLINIC applauds Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio and its continuing efforts to make Cincinnati a welcoming and accessible community for all its residents.

If you have an integration initiative you would like CLINIC to highlight, please contact Leya Speasmaker, Integration Program Manager at