(Pittsburgh, Pa.)Community and elected leaders today joined together at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to announce $4.5 million in funding for Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program.

The program is funded by Act 83 of 2019 and administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

“Folks should be able to gather, to worship, to play without fear of violence targeted at them because of who they love, their faith or their ethnicity,” said Senator Jay Costa. “I wish we didn’t need these grants; I wish our community organizations were safe from acts of hate – but we’ve seen that’s not the case. This grant program has helped and will continue to help groups protect themselves and prevent violence. I’ll continue to fight for its funding as long as it’s needed.”

“Today’s funding announcement is a strategic investment in our people, neighborhoods, and communities by ensuring greater safety when people come together or groups gather in worship,” said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward.

“In 2021, the number of suspicious and antisemitic incidents in Pittsburgh doubled, so Jewish Pittsburgh is grateful for PCCD funding,” said Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh CEO Jeff Finkelstein. “The funding will help Jewish organizations continue their important work. More broadly, we know that, when antisemitism rises, other faith-based communities and minorities are also being targeted. Funds from the PCCD Non-Profit Security Grant Program help safeguard Greater Pittsburgh as a whole.”

Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) noted that that the danger of violence against vulnerable groups is high and rising.

“We wish we lived in a world where we didn’t need millions of dollars to protect the faithful, but we know well that antisemitism and other hateful ideologies are spreading, and houses of faith cannot meet that threat without our help,” Rep. Frankel said. “We are here to support these vulnerable institutions today, and into the future, so that they can do their own important work without fear.”

“The PJC is grateful to Governor Wolf, the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic and Republican Caucuses and the House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus for their cooperative efforts to continue funding this program with the goal of keeping our religious and communal facilities safe from acts of violence and hate,” said Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition Chairman Marc Zucker.   “As demonstrated so tragically in the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh and most recently by the hostage incident at the Beth Israel synagogue in Texas, there is a clear demand for protecting such institutions and those who worship there.  Through the first two years of the program, with a limited amount of funding, only a third of the facilities applying for the security grants were able to receive grants.”

“As hate crimes have markedly increased in recent years, and white supremacist groups have proliferated, the need for security upgrades at our communal institutions was apparent,” Zucker continued. “Our state political leaders have shown their support and leadership to fight hate and violence by striving to make our communal facilities safe and secure..  Over the past three years, $14.5 million have been allocated through this critical program.  The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition applause these efforts to assure a safe and secure future for all Pennsylvanians.

“The rise of antisemitism and other hate crimes continue to be a stark and painful reality in Pennsylvania and nationwide, and the horrifying event in Colleyville magnifies the gravity of the situation”, said Arielle Frankston-Morris, executive director of Teach PA, a project of the Orthodox Union. “We are indebted to Governor Wolf, Leader Costa and Representative Frankel, and all of the members of the General Assembly who supported this effort, sharing a vision of a safe, bright future for all Pennsylvanians and ensuring that vulnerable groups are readied with crucial funding and resources when it’s needed most. We also appreciate our coalition partners including Jewish Federations across the commonwealth and the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition.”

Act 83 directs PCCD to administer grants to nonprofit organizations who principally serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics publication. The categories include:

  • Race/ethnicity/ancestry;
  • Religion;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Disability;
  • Gender; and
  • Gender identity.

Applicants are eligible for security enhancements designed to protect the safety and security of the users of a facility located in the Commonwealth that is owned or operated by the nonprofit organization. Eligible expenses for security enhancements include the following:

  • Safety and security planning
  • Purchase of safety and security equipment
  • Purchase of security-related technology, which may include, but is not limited to:
    • Metal detectors
    • Protective lighting
    • Surveillance equipment
    • Special emergency communications equipment
    • Electronic locksets
    • Deadbolts
    • Trauma kits
    • Theft control devices
  • Safety and security training
  • Threat awareness and response training
  • Upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security
  • Vulnerability and threat assessments
  • Specialty-trained canines
  • Any other safety or security-related project that enhances safety or security of the non-profit organization

For more information, visit https://www.pccd.pa.gov/schoolsafety/Pages/Non-Profit-Security-Grant-Fund.aspx

Contact: Erica Clayton Wright, ewright@pasen.gov, (412) 334-4856

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