WEST CHESTER (January 11, 2021) – Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations that serve those with diverse memberships can apply now for up to $150,000 in state grant funding for important safety and security upgrades, state Senator Carolyn Comitta announced.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The program, funded with a $5 million state budget appropriation, will remain open until February 3, 2021.

 “As Americans, we all have a right to freedom of religion and a right to worship peacefully, safely, and without fear,” Comitta said. “These grants will help support the safety of organizations that serve our friends and neighbors who are often targeted by hate-based threats, intimidation, and violence. We must stand as one in protecting the liberty and safety of all.”

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program supports nonprofit organizations that 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 Statistic Publication.  Those hate crime incidents include race/ethnicity/ancestry; religion; sexual orientation; disability, gender, and gender identity. 

Applications can be submitted online https://www.pccd.pa.gov/schoolsafety/Pages/Non-Profit-Security-Grant-Fund.aspx

Projects that are eligible for funding include:

  • Planning, threat awareness, and response training.
  • Equipment and technology, such as metal detectors, lighting, surveillance, communications systems, locksets, deadbolts, trauma kits, and antitheft devices.
  • Vulnerability and threat assessments.
  • Other projects to enhance safety or security.

Grant awards range from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $150,000. Matching funds are required for funding requests over of $25,000. PCCD will select awardees in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania State Police.

The program, now in its second year, was established by the legislature in Act 83 of 2019 in response to the 2018 attack on the Jewish community at the Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations in Pittsburgh. Comitta, then a state representative, voted for legislation (House Bill 859) that established the program.

On October 27, 2018, 11 people were killed and seven (including three police officers and the suspect) were injured in a mass shooting during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life Congregation building, which also served as home to the New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Robert Gregory Bowers was arrested and is currently in custody facing state and federal capital murder charges. According to police, after his arrest, he told them that his motivation for the attack was antisemitism.

The shooting followed similar hate-based attacks that have injured and killed worshipers at churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship across the nation. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, it is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.