1-year after attack at Pittsburg synagogue, safety grants will help houses of worship & at-risk nonprofits

HARRISBURG, PA – One year after the attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life, Teach PA, a project of the Orthodox Union (OU) and a leading advocate for equitable funding for Pennsylvania’s nonpublic schools, thanked Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature for creating the Pennsylvania Nonprofit Security Grant Fund. The new program will initially disperse up to $5 million.

The creation of the fund is an acknowledgment by the Commonwealth’s leadership of the danger faced by faith-based and bias hate-crimes-vulnerable institutions. It will make safety grants available to at-risk nonprofit organizations to enhance their physical security.

Following the Pittsburgh tragedy, lawmakers and advocates sought to create a security enhancement program to aid nonprofits that serve individuals, groups or institutions that are identified by the FBI as being within a bias motivation category for hate crime incidents. The new program will be funded at $5 million and administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Nonprofits will be able to apply for target hardening and security training grants, in award amounts from $5,000 to $150,000. The application window is anticipated to open in March 2020.

Houses of worship, including synagogues, churches and mosques – which until now could not access Pennsylvania state safety grants – will be able to apply for this critical funding. Schools, community centers, camps and others will be able to apply for these grants as well.

The Orthodox Union joined its subsidiary, Teach PA, in thanking state officials for taking a significant step that aligns Pennsylvania with other states such as New York, New Jersey, California and Maryland in creating safety programs for houses of worship and nonprofits.

“Jewish institutions across the country face an increased threat and we thank the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition and Senators Jay Costa, Andrew Dinniman and Representative Dan Frankel, among others, for championing this,” said Teach PA Executive Director Arielle Frankston-Morris. “The Jewish community is hopeful that continued advocacy will yield more safety, tolerance and unity in the Commonwealth.”

Teach PA, a division of Teach Coalition, was founded in 2013 to advocate for equitable government funding for Pennsylvania nonpublic schools. It has helped secure over $85 million in scholarships for Jewish day school students and spearheaded the creation and maintenance of a school safety program that has delivered nearly $1 million to nine nonpublic schools. Currently, 20 day-schools and yeshivas receive support through Teach PA’s efforts. For more information, visit https://teachcoalition.org/pa/.