Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomes last week’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of the release of $60 million in grants to day schools, houses of worship and other nonprofits through the 2019 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to secure their buildings against the threat of terror attacks.
The OU Advocacy Center, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the OU, helped craft and advocate for the federal program 15 years ago together with the Jewish Federations of North America and other coalition partners. Since then, Congress has allocated $329 million for the grants, which are administered by the Department of Homeland Security. Over the years, the majority of the recipients have been Jewish communal institutions.
This marked the second consecutive year Congress allocated a record $60 million for the program. Of that amount, $50 million was apportioned to nonprofits in major urban areas traditionally considered at high risk of terror attacks, and another $10 million was earmarked for institutions in other geographic regions.
Each of the recipients will have access to as much as $100,000 apiece to improve building security by acquiring and installing equipment ranging from fences, lighting and video surveillance to metal detectors and blast-resistant doors, locks and windows. The recipients may also use the funding to train staff and pay for contracted security personnel.
The OU Advocacy Center has been working to secure an even greater share of funding for the grant program for 2020; in June, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved $90 million for the fiscal year 2020 Homeland Security bill. That would increase funding for the much-needed grants by 50 percent and open the program to houses of worship and other nonprofits previously ineligible for the grant program.
Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy stated:
“The attacks on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad of Poway, California highlight the critical need for this program. The threats we face have created unprecedented pressures on the Jewish community to keep people safe. The recent mass shootings in Texas, Ohio and California further demonstrate that hate attacks are, sadly, on the rise.”
Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane stated:
“All of us, no matter our faith, must be able to send our students to school and worship without fear of attacks. We are very grateful to the many members of Congress who have recognized this need and pushed for greater funding so that more of our schools, synagogues and other communal institutions have access to this critical funding.”