NEW YORK - Advocates for the Orthodox community praised Congress for allocating $25 million for the coming year for a program known as the Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP), representing a $5 million increase over last year’s level and bringing the appropriation to the level it was set at when created, a decade ago.
The grant program was originally created in 2005, largely at the urging of Jewish lobby groups, as part of a national post-9/11 response to heightened domestic terror threats. The allocation was then set at $25 million, but was gradually decreased to $10 million. Last year, the allocation of $20 million was the largest since 2007. To date, the grants have delivered close to $200 million to non-profit agencies, many of them of Jewish affiliation.
Democratic and Republican legislators alike have been pushing to increase the amount of funding for the grant program amid a widely reported surge in anti-Semitic incidents and other acts classified as hate crimes across the country.
In March, amid the rash of JCC bomb threats and two cemetery desecrations, 112 members of Congress signed a letter asking for the allocation to be doubled from its original amount to $50 million.
“We are grateful that Congress understands this threat and, on a bipartisan basis, has in recent years steadily increased security funding to better protect the nation’s citizens and institutions against terrorist violence,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president for federal affairs and Washington director of the Agudath Israel of America. “Given the increasing threat, funding levels must continue to increase if NSGP is to adequately secure American institutions.”
Agudath Israel, the Orthodox Union, and other Jewish organizations steadily lobbied for increases.
“We deeply appreciate our elected leaders for taking threats against the Jewish community very seriously and working diligently to strengthen the Nonprofit Security Grant Program,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy for the Orthodox Union. “With this additional funding, even more people will be protected…”
The NSGP delivers grants of as much as $75,000 each to nonprofits to make their facilities more secure by acquiring and installing items such as fences, lighting, video surveillance, metal detectors, blast-resistant doors, locks and windows.
The Dept. of Homeland Security has awarded almost $200 million in NSGP grants since the program began.