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Agudath Israel Welcomes Significant Expansion of FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program Which Will Include New Areas and More Institutions

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced the final allocations and awards for the FY2020 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). The announcement reflects the implementation of Congress’s landmark FY2020 appropriations bill, which allocated a record $90 million dollars for the program – $50 million directed to specified “at risk” urban areas and $40 million to go to other locations. The announcement was shared with members of Congress and outlined the amounts going to each state and to the awarded nonprofits.

“It is very exciting and gratifying to see the expansion of the program – more funds, more locations, more security,” noted Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington Director. “Particularly at this time of unrest, with an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents, the program continues to be vitally important to the Jewish community.”

NSGP was created in 2005 to address the various security threats facing nonprofits located in urban areas at high risk of terrorist attack. Its funding goes to procuring security enhancements and to hardening vulnerable targets. Agudath Israel has been among a small coalition of groups, led by the Jewish Federations of North America, that has been in the forefront of creating, extending and expanding the program.

One special feature of this year’s allocation is the close to $2 million award that will go to nonprofits in Rockland County, New York. Originally, the grant was limited to specified urban areas only, causing the many other “at risk” communities to be left without security funding. Rockland County, for example, which was the scene of a brutal synagogue attack this past Chanukah, had been ineligible for NSGP, despite its vulnerability as having the largest Jewish population per capita of any county in the U.S.

Advocating for these communities became a priority for Agudath Israel and other groups and community activists, and in recent years they were included in the program. This relentless effort yielded further fruit in the FY2020 legislation and FEMA allocation, resulting in a record $40 million to go to these “non-urban, at-risk” communities, and eventually bringing 500 additional nonprofits into the program. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and longtime representative from Rockland County, played a key role in, and has been widely praised for, the expansion of the program, which will now include numerous institutions in Rockland County, as well as in locations around the country.

“All Americans deserve and have the right to live their lives without fear, and this is especially true in the Jewish community, where the threats and dangers are tangible,” observed Rabbi Cohen. “We will continue to seek to bolster NSGP so that our synagogues, schools, camps, charities and social service agencies will be safe and secure for our families.”

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