Over the past year, the OU Advocacy Center has worked tirelessly with allies in Congress, under two presidential administrations, to play a leading role in crafting key provisions in each of the three major federal pandemic relief packages and provide billions of dollars for America’s Jewish community and charitable organizations nationwide to weather the economic hardships wrought by COVID-19.

That includes $5.5 billion specifically for Jewish and other nonpublic day schools: The March 2020 COVID relief package contained $2.75 billion, the very same amount we succeeded in getting included in the relief bill passed just a few months earlier.

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OU Advocacy worked closely with our allies in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to secure these rare set-asides for nonpublic schools so they could address COVID-related costs and impact ranging from purchasing cleaning supplies and HVAC upgrades to physical barriers and new software.

Among the other provisions for our community that OU Advocacy helped to secure in recent months:

  • Expanding the availability of forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to nonprofit charities that employ more than 500 people, including a number of large Jewish day schools that weren’t previously eligible for PPP funds and obtaining a second round of the loans (which nonprofits can access);
  • dramatically expanding the federal child tax credit;
  • extending unemployment insurance support and the Employee Retention Tax Credit;
  • providing funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing;
  • increasing funding for food assistance.

 Our role in getting that assistance is noted in this New York Times piece, Schumer and a Teachers’ Union Leader Secure Billions for Private Schools, and was also featured extensively in the New Jersey Jewish Link: OU Secures New Funds in COVID Relief Bill. Read additional coverage here.

In addition to pandemic assistance to help our institutions get through these difficult times, we’re also pleased to have led the re-introduction of two federal bills: 

  • The Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, which would create a $50 million pilot grant program to support shuls, day schools and other nonprofits in making energy efficiency improvements to their buildings. OUA and its allies crafted this legislation and are working with legislators to build support for its passage as part of the larger infrastructure package Congress is currently considering. Read more about that here. 
  • The Work Opportunities and Resources to Keep Nonprofit Organizations Well (WORK NOW) Act, which would establish a grant program to help nonprofits meet the increasing need for charitable assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic, preserve and create jobs among nonprofits, reduce unemployment and promote economic recovery. This emergency relief would be open to eligible nonprofits, especially those whose workers are serving community needs that have increased because of the pandemic. Read more here. 

On another important matter, the Orthodox Union sent this letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to convey our concern about the Biden Administration’s recent decision to send $235 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority and other entities that support the Palestinians. As noted in the letter, the OU does not, per se, oppose U.S. aid to the PA that would serve humanitarian needs, bolster security cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis, and advance the prospects for peace. But we do oppose U.S. aid that undermines those very goals and supports Palestinian intransigence and anti-Israel animus. 
And finally, we’ve already begun advocating increasing the Department of Homeland Security’s allocation for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to its highest point ever: $360 million for fiscal year 2022. During the previous year, we worked closely with Congress to bring NSGP funding to an all-time high, $180 million, so that more Jewish day schools, synagogues, summer camps and a wide variety of other nonprofits at risk of terrorist attacks may make their buildings safer.

OUA spearheaded the creation of the NSGP in 2005 and advocates each year to increase its funding. To date, the program has provided $599 million to thousands of our day schools, shuls and other communal institutions.

You can help us secure that allocation by going here to encourage your U.S. Representative to sign the “Dear Colleague Letter” now being led by Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) to urge lawmakers to include that increase in the next Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.