Congress Member Grace Meng, as New York’s senior appropriator on the House Appropriations Committee, deserves a salute for her efforts in ensuring the funding and increase to the Nonprofit Security Grants that will help 13 borough synagogues, educational institutions, and community centers with protecting their properties against threats and attacks. Nearly $2 million in federal funding for security improvements has been allocated through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program and will be administered via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The money covers target-hardening and other physical security enhancements such as barriers, gates, safety gear, surveillance equipment, and other safety measures.
“As I have said many times, we can never take a backseat to safety,” stated Meng. “It must be the top priority, especially as we continue to fight against the rise in anti-Semitism, hate crimes and violent attacks. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a crucial resource to help protect our facilities here in Queens, and help them upgrade their security. I am proud to have championed the funding for it. From taking part in religious services to attending school, everybody deserves to feel safe, and be kept out of harm’s way.”
Most of the Queens entities receiving funds obtained the maximum grant amount of $150,000. They include the following:
Bnos Malka Academy (Forest Hills), Bukharian Jewish Community Center (Forest Hills), Chabad Lubavitch Community Center of Northeast Queens (Bayside) Congregation Ahavas Yisroel of Kew Gardens Hills, Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, Flushing-Fresh Meadows Jewish Center (Fresh Meadows), Jewish Institute of Queens (Elmhurst), Rabbinical Seminary of America (Kew Gardens Hills), Utopia Jewish Center (Fresh Meadows), Yeshiva of Central Queens (Kew Gardens Hills), Young Israel of Forest Hills, Young Israel of Hillcrest, and Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.
The grants come after Meng held a virtual workshop for Queens houses of worship and nonprofits in February to learn more about the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and how they can successfully apply for funding.
In April, she announced that she helped secure an unprecedented $250 million for the initiative, a $70 million increase over the record-breaking $180 million that she helped obtain last year. It followed her success in helping to secure funding increases for the program in prior years as well.
In May, the Congresswoman encouraged local houses of worship and nonprofit organizations to prepare their applications and seek funding when the period to apply was about to begin.
“I look forward to helping secure even more money in the years ahead,” Meng added.
On August 3, we welcomed bipartisan approval of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) Improvement Act by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, an increase pushed for by President Joe Biden. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has similarly pushed for the same increase since 2019 when annual funding was at a mere $90 million. The legislation, led in the Senate by committee Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), is a modified version of legislation already passed by the House of Representatives with a key provision authorizing the grant program to be funded at $360 million for each of the next five fiscal years. The increase was a reaction to the increase in anti-Semitic attacks both minor and major, like the hostage-taking crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Domestic extremist threats, and violent reactions from passersby have created a need to take every threat or attack seriously and do whatever is necessary to protect our institutions. The JCRC-NY has taken a lead effort in helping local shuls obtain grants and created a specific program for shtieblach in Brooklyn.
“Poway, Pittsburgh, Colleyville. Enough is enough,” said Shabsie Saphirstein, Secretary, Agudath Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, which is housed at YCQ, an award recipient. “I commend the Congresswoman and her team, including her liaison Rabbi Daniel Pollack, for making every outreach effort to have our local shuls and schools included in these grants. Our communities are privileged to have such attentive elected officials. The improvements from previous grants are noticeable at area institutions that have new doors, gates, and the like. While I do not know precisely know how YCQ has spent their grants, I can attest that their Board of Directors, Executive Director Rabbi Yaakov Lonner, and Building Manager Aron Kessler all work tirelessly to ensure the best in building security as is evident by the secure lobby and overall safety and protective measures, no doubt due to the NSGP program.”