DHS Guidance for NSGP Applications

Posted on May 31, 2018 In Blog

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Nonprofit Security Grant Program Funding Opportunity FY2018

 Grant Application Guidance

The following guidance is organized to assist eligible applicants with completing the Investment Justification (IJ).  We thank Rob Goldberg, our partner at JFNA for preparing this useful document.

There are 7 parts to the IJ and each section below corresponds to a specific part (or parts) of the IJ. Most sections of the IJ will be scored with a best possible score of 40 points. Each section is assigned up to a certain value. The SAAs and DHS/FEMA will apply additional factors, described below, which will be used to further prioritize the NSGP-UA only applications.

To begin, we recommend:

  • Applicants carefully read instructions before entering content into the Investment Justification. Responsiveness and completeness of the application is scored.
  • Use a PC to complete the application and not an Apple computer, to avoid potential technical problems with the software.
  • Minimize extraneous verbiage and focus on relaying the substance as concisely as possible, as space is extremely limited. Each section is limited to a set number of characters.
  • Following the check list set forth at the end of this document before finalizing and submitting the IJ.

Grant Application: Part I. Applicant Information

(This section is not scored)

The first section of the IJ is the Applicant Information Section, which requests the following Information:

  1. Legal name of organization
  2. Physical address of the org.
  3. Year the facility was constructed
  4. Organization type*
  5. Membership & community served**
  6. Organization’s 501(c)(3) number (if applicable)
  7. Current Dun & Bradstreet number***
  8. The applicable Urban Area (NSGP-UA only)
  9. Funding amount requested (NSGP-UA up to $150 thousand. NSGP-S: up to $100 thousand)
  10. Total project cost
  11. Verification of any current DHS contract
  12. New or ongoing Investment


* “What is the organization’s type (i.e., ideology, beliefs and mission)?” This question provides the first substantive opportunity for an applicant to: a) address the institution’s intrinsic nature that may make it a potential target of terrorism or Violent Homegrown Extremism (VHE). Consequently, in drafting a response, it is advisable to clearly state how the applicant is one or more of the following categories:

  1. i) Identifiable as Jewish or faith-based;
  2. ii) Ideologically pro-Israel or pro-Jewish; and/or

iii) Grounded in Jewish values, learning, heritage or life.

Moreover, how an applicant describes itself (Organization Type) will have a critical impact on the applicant’s final score. For further guidance, please review “Final Score” on Page 12 of this document.

** Membership & Community Served:

Recommendation 1:

An applicant may participate in a task force, community-relations council, or other community advisory group as a representative of the Jewish community. If so, an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

Recommendation 2:

An organization, its staff, or volunteers may sponsor, host, participate in, or otherwise be a part of a local community event (i.e., a parade, fund raiser, block party) that would place a spot light on the institution. If so, an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

Recommendation 3:

An applicant may be a center of Jewish communal activity with a regular monthly schedule of public activities that are widely known and publicized, including on the Internet or through other media. If so, an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

*** Dun & Bradstreet Number: If you need to register or search for your DUNS Number, go to: https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/displayHomePage.do

Grant Application: Part II. Background

(This section is worth up to 2 points)

The Background section seeks the following information:

– Symbolic value of the site(s) as a highly recognized national or historical institution or significant institution within the community that renders the site as a possible target of terrorism (or VHE); and

– Any previous or existing role in responding to or recovering from terrorist attacks (or VHE incidents).

The following guidance is intended to assist applicants to think about and formulate their responses:

  1. Symbolic value of the site(s) as a highly recognized national or historical institution that renders the site as a possible target of terrorism:

Recommendation 1 (Tailored to Synagogues and Community Centers):

  1. Synagogues, community centers (and other institutions) may be located in historic communities, neighborhoods, districts, and/or buildings. If designated as such by a historical society, local government or municipality, an applicant may want to include this information in the IJ.

Note: Even if not officially designated a historic site, many institutions (or their previous iterations) have been operating/located in their communities, neighborhoods, and/or buildings for many decades (some for more than 100 years). If so, an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

  1. If a synagogue, community center (or other institution) is affiliated with a national movement, an applicant may want to include the movement’s scope and history in a similar manner as set forth in Recommendation 1, above, when responding to this question.
  2. Synagogues and JCCs are easily identified as centers of Jewish life.

 Recommendation 2 (Tailored to Day Schools and Yeshivas):
In their applications, day schools and yeshivas should give special attention to describing their risk of terrorist attack, specifically highlighting the school’s need for preventing and protecting children and educators on  a constant and daily basis.  School applicants should also make note of specific events or circumstances that demonstrate terrorist threats, such as anti-Semitic or anti-Israel incidents that have occurred in the community and/or state and at other Jewish schools across the country.

Recommendation 3 (Tailored to Federations and Federation Affiliated Agencies):

If an applicant is a Federation or a beneficiary/affiliated agency of a Federation, an applicant may want to include the following information in the application:

“We belong to a widely recognized national/international system with more than 100 years of service to this country: The Jewish Federations of North America. JFNA includes 148 Jewish Federations and over 300 Network communities across North America, raises and distributes more than $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and educational needs. The JFNA system is made up of Jewish Federations, Congregational Schools and higher learning, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Day Schools, Jewish Family Service Agencies, Jewish Hospitals, Jewish Nursing Homes, and Jewish Vocational Services, among others. Collectively among the top 10 charities in the world, the system is the central address of North American Jewry, employing more than 230,000 people and serving approximately one million clients, annually. The Jewish Federations reach more Jews than any other organization in the world.”

Recommendation 4 (Focus on Public Recognition):

An applicant may have received an award/awards or other form of public recognition/commemoration/media attention for its work or service from a government agency, association or other professional organization, the press, or other group, singling them out/making them more recognizable. If so, an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

Recommendation 5 (Focus on Community Leaders):

An applicant’s membership or leadership may include celebrities or community leaders, who are highly recognized national or local figures and whose affiliation with the applicant may raise its profile. If so, an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

Recommendation 6 (Focus on Jewish Identity):

If an applicant’s name makes it easily recognizable as a Jewish institution and/or is otherwise widely known in the community as a Jewish institution (i.e., reflected in its mission statement, publications, website, signage), an applicant may want to include this information in the application.

  1. Any role in responding to or recovering from terrorist attacks

In responding to this question, an applicant should, foremost, explain the organization’s specific or predominant role(s) played or expertise provided in emergency response/disaster recovery situations, using illustrations where possible. The following information is intended to assist applicants understand and articulate their roles in disaster recovery for purposes of the application. Two critical points an applicant could make when answering this question:

  1. Its role in emergency response: to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic incident; and
  2. Its role in recovery: through a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of infrastructure, housing, and a sustainable economy, as well as the health, social, cultural, historic, and environmental fabric of communities affected by a catastrophic incident.

Note: Examples may be as straightforward as the applicant sharing vital information with the community; raising emergency funds; serving as a central point of contact with government agencies/first responders/other coordinating bodies.

For some applicants, this might be a difficult question to answer if they do not have a clear role in emergency response or recovery. The following are possible responses to consider:

  • Faith-based and nonprofit organizations provide essential support in disaster relief. If applicable, applicant may want to explain recent event(s) and the role(s), mission, activities it engaged in to mitigate suffering and helping victims survive.
  • Applicants may participate in or be affiliated with a local, state, or nationally coordinated effort/network with government and/or non-governmental partners and/or programs on disaster response (i.e., VOAD or JVOAD). If applicable, applicant may want to identify the entities and discuss the relevant plans, procedures, policies, training, credentialing, and goods and services offered/stockpiled (i.e., food, water, shelter, commodities, equipment, financial assistance, health, social, and/or other humanitarian services (including pastoral services)), and the intended care recipients or beneficiaries.
  • Applicants may have established their own internal or independent program(s). If applicable, applicant may want to identify and discuss relevant plans, procedures, policies, training, credentialing, and goods and services offered/stockpiled (i.e., food, water, shelter, commodities, equipment, financial assistance, health, social, and/or other humanitarian services (including pastoral services)), and the intended care recipients/beneficiaries.
  • Applicants may contribute to the “Whole Community” approach to homeland security. The Department of Homeland Security believes it is imperative to integrate and synchronize policies, strategies, and plans — among all federal, state, local, private, and community efforts across all partners in the professions of prevention, protection, response and recovery – into a unified system for homeland security. They call this a “whole Community” approach to homeland security.

If applicable, applicant may want to explain how its institution, agency, or network has successfully contributed to, coordinated or collaborated and/or partnered with federal, state or local law enforcement or other bodies in emergency response, disaster recovery, or even more ordinary humanitarian programs or projects serving at-risk populations (i.e., participation on the local board of FEMAs Emergency Food and Shelter Program; coordination with the local Area Agency on Aging to serve homebound senior citizens; providing after school programming for at-risk youths; etc.)

Note: It is always good to be able to comply with a DHS priority, such as the “Whole Community” approach. Think carefully on how your institutions may fit.

Grant Application: Part III. Risk

(This section is worth up to 12 points)

The Risk section focuses on three questions pertaining to Threat, Vulnerabilities; and Potential Consequences of an attack, broken down as follows:

  1. Threat (Part A): The applicant should discuss the identification and substantiation of prior threats or attacks against the organization or a closely related organization by a terrorist organization, network, or cell (this would also include Violent Homegrown Extremists). Proofs should include any findings from a previously conducted risk assessment, police findings, and/or insurance claims specific to the location.

In answering this question, an applicant should (in order or priority):

  • First, describe specific terror (or violent homegrown extremist) events threats, hate crimes, and/or related vandalism, trespass, intimidations, or destruction of property that have targeted its institution/s.

Note: You may also include a specific event/s or circumstance/s that impacted an affiliate or member of your system or network.

  • Second, report on incidents that have occurred in the community and/or State where the institution is located.
  • Third, reference the public record regarding threats against similar or like institutions at home or abroad.

Note: With respect to referencing the public record, we will provide a Threat Chronology, which will include summaries of numerous threats against Jews and Jewish institutions that have been reported in the public record. An applicant may search this chronology for examples of incidents most relevant to their organization and/or circumstance. Since there is limited working space in the IJ, the applicant will need to be selective in choosing the examples to incorporate into the response. Moreover, an applicant may want to search the Threat Chronology for either events that are most recent, geographically proximate, and closely related to their type or circumstance of their institution or are of such magnitude or breadth that they create a significant existential threat to the Jewish community at large (i.e., momentous occasions that call into question Jewish security for all — such as the use by white supremacists, al Qaeda and ISIL’s use of social media to incite violence against all Jews nationally of worldwide).

  1. Vulnerabilities (Part B): The applicant should discuss the organization’s susceptibility to destruction, incapacitation, or exploitation by a terrorist (or VHE) attack. In answering this question, an applicant should utilize/rely on the findings from their risk assessment in establishing the gaps in security.
  2. Potential Consequence (Part C): When addressing consequences, the applicant should discuss potential negative effects on the organization’s assets, system, and/or network if damaged, destroyed or disrupted by a terrorist (or VHE) attack, threats, intimidation. In answering this question, the applicant should explain the potential harm that could result from an attack (i.e., loss of life, disruptions to work or delivery of service, negative economic impact on the sustainability of the organization to remain in business/serve the community).

Note: It is critically important that the applicant answer the questions asked in the order they were given and in the spaces assigned. No credit will be given for answers provided in the wrong places or otherwise jumbled together. Be disciplined!

Grant Application: Part IV. Target Hardening & Training

(This section is worth up to 14 points)

In this section, an applicant should explain how the Target Hardening investments will address the Threat, Vulnerabilities; and Potential Consequences identified in Part III.

There are two areas of allowable costs:

1. Target Hardening: NSGP is limited to two categories (Categories 14 and 15) that pertain to Physical Security Enhancement Equipment and Inspection and Screening Systems. The details about the eligible equipment may be found at: www.fema.gov/authorized-equipment-list.
Note: Be sure to search only Categories 14 and 15. No other equipment types will be allowed under the NSGP program.

2. Security-Related Training and Exercises: NSGP training is limited to the protection of critical infrastructure key resources, including physical and cybersecurity, target hardening, and terrorism awareness and employee preparedness.

  • Training Courses: Nonprofit organization staff may use NSGP funds to attend security-related training courses and programs within the United States. Allowable training topics are limited to the protection of critical infrastructure key resources, including physical and cybersecurity, target hardening, and terrorism awareness/employee preparedness.
  • Exercises: NSGP Funding may be used to conduct security-related exercises. Exercises afford organizations the opportunity to validate plans and procedures, evaluate capabilities, and assess progress toward meeting capability targets in a controlled, low-risk setting. Interested applicants should check with their SAA as to whether

Key Recommendations:

  1. There MUST be a clear, cohesive and rational flow between the risks identified in Part III and the solutions (or investments) identified in Part IV. Part III serves to explain the risks, vulnerabilities, and consequences of an attack or threat. Part IV describes the recommended improvements from the eligible equipment list (and training/exercises) that would best address and minimize the identified risks, vulnerabilities, and consequences. There should be a flow between these sections; together they establish that the applicant fully understands its vulnerabilities and the best approaches to mitigating the risks.

 Training Investments/Costs: If preparedness training is identified as necessary and appropriate to address the identified risk/s, such training must be expressly included in Part IV or it will not be deemed eligible or approved later on.

  1. Exercises Investment/Costs: This is new to this year’s NSGP program. As such, interested applicants should check with their SAA about how to include this investment in the IJ, and whether as with “Training”, the exercise/s must address a specific threat and/or vulnerability, as identified in the nonprofit organization’s IJ.
  2. Equipment Costs: The Investment Justification requires the applicant to identify the specific equipment to be purchased, the vulnerability that will be addressed, and the estimated cost per item. For best results, to the degree possible, the risk assessor and equipment vendor(s) should be familiar with the AEL list and use the applicable equipment codes when submitting recommendations and cost estimates. This way, when completing the IJ, the applicant can easily/transfer the information into the IJ where requested.

Grant Application: Part V. Project Milestones

(This section is worth up to 4 points)

This section provides space for an applicant to outline sequentially (chronologically) the expected key preparations, acquisition and installation milestones that allow the applicant to reach its objectives during the projects period of performance. Estimated start and completion dates must be provided for each milestone.

Note: Completeness is important as the reviewers need to have confidence in an applicant’s full understanding of the scope of the project and what amounts to key milestones.

The following serves as an example of a condensed list of milestones to illustrate ONLY what a sequence might look like. It is not intended to be used as an answer to the question. Each applicant’s response should be specific, complete, and relevant to their specific request.

Sample Sequence:

  1. Receive award notification, complete award acceptance agreement, satisfy FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation review (see below), and commence project.
  2. Establish payment method and satisfy all financial and programmatic reporting requirements.
  3. Hire vendors and contractors.
  4. Order and acquire equipment.
  5. Conduct engineering back work.
  6. Install equipment.
  7. Test equipment, develop punch list and satisfy outstanding items and issues.
  8. Train staff in use and maintenance of equipment and technologies.
  9. Finalize delivery of project.
  10. Schedule/conduct allowable training/exercises.
  11. Close out project.

Note: As reference points, the anticipated 36-month period of performance start date is September 1, 2018, with a projected end-date of August 31, 2021. Also, the milestone should anticipate that FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation review may take several months (i.e., 60-to90 days or more) to complete and that the start date cannot commence until FEMA certifies that the review has been completed. The Milestones should include a statement to this affect and allow for this delay in estimating start and end dates. As the period of performance is 36 months, this delay should not be a detriment to the project, just an inconvenience. And while the period of performance is 36 months, be sure to use accurate estimates for reaching milestones and completing the project.

Grant Application: Part VI, Project Management

(This section is worth up to 5 points)

The section sets forth senior management roles and responsibilities, governance structure and expertise required to successfully manage the project. The following are two specific areas that need to be addressed:

  1. Provide project management details, such as the complete contact information for the project manager, and a description of their relevant experience. To the degree known and applicable, an applicant should also identify other persons who will be enlisted to advise, coordinate or help carry out the project, their expected roles, responsibilities and relevant experience.

Note: Where there are vacant positions or unknowns that are expected to be filled, then include each position to be filled and the expected roles, responsibilities, and qualifications for each position.

  1. Include a description of potential challenges to project implementation. There may be known, foreseeable, and unknown challenges to implementing the project. The following are suggestions in how to respond:
  • Include any potential challenges identified in the risk assessment or by the project coordinator, or contactor for completing the project or aspects thereof.
  • There are a number of common or predictable challenges an applicant should consider, including: delays in the notification of grant award; satisfactory completion of the administrative requirements for the release of funds (i.e., completion of financial and programmatic reports, compliance with Federal regulations, and other conditions of the award contract acceptance); delays in the acquisition of equipment and installation of same; Changes in cost estimates or other planning assumptions.
  • An applicant should include a blanket statement on the quality of its management and implementation team to minimize foreseeable and unforeseeable problems and to ensure that when challenges arise, they will be dealt with by experienced, competent and responsible professionals.

Note: All projects run into problems, delays, challenges. Applicants should give real thought to what they might expect and convey a competence for handling them to a satisfactory conclusion.

  • Describe coordination with State and local homeland security partners. In addition to grant funding for target hardening and training activities or exercises, the NGSP grant opportunity is intended to promote a “Whole Community” approach to homeland security. In this section explain the intended improved integration of nonprofit security within broader State and local preparedness efforts.


  • If an applicant is collaborating with State and local homeland security partners on the grant project, they should include a description of the partnership, which might include assistance with conducting the risk assessment. This might include conducting training and/or exercises through the grant that will include the presence of or materials provided by State and/or local homeland security partners.
  • If the applicant has other interactions with State or local law enforcement outside of the grant, reference the relationship(s) in this section as well. This might include increased engagement of presence around high holidays or specific threat events/circumstances, or participation in emergency management training opportunities or drills.
  • If state or local law enforcement conducted, advised or otherwise contributed to the applicant’s risk assessment or otherwise in consideration of the grant, they should describe that engagement in this section.

Note: If an applicant is not currently collaborating with law enforcement on the project, at a minimum they might convey an expectation that they will reach out to their local law enforcement authorities/first responders during the implementation of their project, as a courtesy, means of engagement and relationship building, and to elicit assistance and feedback to strengthen project outcomes.

Grant Application: Part VII. Impact

(This section is worth up to 5 points)

In this section an applicant is required to address two inquiries:

  1. Explain the expected measurable outputs and outcomes derived from the completion of the project that would best illustrate the success of the project.

Note: The response should include a self-assessment (a statement) on how in practice the allocation of resources – the target hardening investments (set forth in Part IV) acquired through the grant — most efficiently and effectively reduce the risks and vulnerabilities identified in the Risk sections (Part III) of the application.

  1. Explain the Investment/s support building or sustaining specific core capabilities of the National Preparedness Goal. The following are enumerated core capabilities to choose from. Those that are relevant should be described in this section:
  • Prevent a threatened or actual act of terrorism (or VHE);
  • Protect citizens, residents, visitors, and assets against the greatest threats and hazards;
  • Mitigate the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of future disasters;
  • Respond quickly to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic incident; and
  • Recover through a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening, and revitalization of infrastructure, housing, and a sustainable economy, as well as the health, social, cultural, historic, and environmental fabric or communities affected by a catastrophic incident.

 For more information on each component, go to:


Note: The response should explain how the Investment/s, if funded, would contribute to achieving or working towards achieving specific core capabilities and how they would most effectively ensure the security of the applicant and the resilience of the community, state and/or nation. It would help to also explain how the Investment/s would contribute to the “Whole Community “approach of securing the country.

Bonus – Funding History

(This section is worth 1 point for applicants who have not received a prior award)

Due to the competitive nature of the program, an applicant who has not received a prior grant award shall automatically receive one (1) additional point to its overall IJ score.

Note: All applicants must set forth their NSGP funding history. Do not leave blank.

Applicant Contact Information

All IJ preparers must certify that they are either an employee or agent of the applying organization. Be sure to check the box and provide name, e-mail address or phone number.

Final Score

The NSGP-UA and NSGP-S programs will be scored somewhat differently, with the NSGP-UA process more complex.

Scoring the NSGP-S IJ: The SAA will review and score all complete application packages using the NSGP Scoring Worksheet. The SAA will prioritize all NSGP IJs by ranking each IJ. Each IJ will receive a unique rank (#1 [one] being the highest ranked through the total number of applications the SAA scored. DHS/FEMA will review the submissions to ensure that the proposed projects in each IJ submitted are allowable.

Scoring the NSGP-UA IJ: Applications will be reviewed through a two-phase process that includes a state and federal review. One state and two federal reviewers will score each IJ using the NSGP Scoring Worksheet and will come up with a final average score (0-to-41). That score will then be multiplied by a factor of 1 to 3 depending on how the organization identified its “Organization Type” in Part I of the IJ (Applicant Information), as follows:

  • By a factor of three for nonprofit groups that are at a high risk of terrorist attacks due to their ideology, beliefs, or mission;
  • By a factor of two for medical and educational institutions; and
  • By a factor of one for all other nonprofit organizations.

All final application scores will then be sorted in descending order, regardless of urban area, and applicants will be selected from highest to lowest until available FY 2018 NSGP funding has been exhausted. DHS/FEMA will use the final results to make funding recommendations to the Secretary of DHS. All final funding determinations will be made by the Secretary of DHS, who retains the discretion to consider other factors and information in addition to DHS/FEMA’s funding recommendations.

  • Note: How an organization self-identifies itself will be a significant determining factor in the final score it will receive. It is, therefore, incumbent upon ALL applicants to make clear that their identity, work, beliefs, values, causes as identifiably Jewish communal institutions, makes them a high risk target of attack by terrorists and Violent Homegrown extremists because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission. This should be validated in the applicant’s mission statement, risk assessment, and where applicable in the IJ, (i.e., Parts I –III).

Important Check List

To ensure that the draft responses are as thorough and complete as possible, prior to finalization and submission of the IJ Investment form, applicants should:

1. Review the scoring worksheet the SAA uses to score the IJs.
Link to worksheet:

 2. Utilize the following checklist:

I. Has the applicant contacted the State Administrative Agency (SAA) to:

  • Verify the state’s application deadline?
  • Obtain information on any additional state requirements

    II. Are the following components included in the application package?

  • Mission statement
  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Investment Justification (IJ)
  • Supporting documentation that substantiates threat, if applicable
  • Any other state required information

    III. Are the following items addressed within the IJ?

  • Clearly identify risk, vulnerabilities, and consequences
  • Description of findings from a previously conducted vulnerability assessment
  • Details of any incident(s) that include description, dates etc.
  • Brief description of any supporting documentation such as police reports or photographs
  • Explanation of how the investments proposed will mitigate or address the vulnerabilities identified from a vulnerability assessment
  • Establish a clear linkage with the investment(s) and core capabilities (See National Preparedness Goal)
  • All proposed activities are allowable costs
  • Realistic milestones that consider Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation review process, if applicable
  • Description of the project manager(s) level of experience