JFNA to help thousands of institutions apply for federal security grant

CEO: “We’re going to dramatically increase the number of professional assessments that are being done as part of this round of grant application.”

Eric Fingerhut (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Eric Fingerhut
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
 WASHINGTON – Hundreds of Jewish institutions are expected to apply for and receive federal security grants in the wake of increasing antisemitic incidents around the United States when the application process opens this week.
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) will help the thousands of institutions apply for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), given out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
 The program allows houses of worship and other nonprofits or NGOs to apply for grants of up to $100,000 for each institution. The money can be used for security measures such as fencing, cameras, stronger doors and the hiring of security personnel.
In December, Congress doubled the budget of the NSGP to $180 million for the fiscal year 2021. Jewish organizations had advocated quadrupling federal funding from $90 million to $360 to secure nonprofits and synagogues from hate crimes.
Eric Fingerhut, CEO of the Jewish Federations in North America (JFNA), told The Jerusalem Post that the JFNA is setting up a team of experts to help Jewish organizations apply for grants as the application process only lasts for some 60 days.
“We’re going to dramatically increase the number of professional assessments that are being done as part of this round of grant application,” he said.
“This grant is not only providing the funds to address security risks but is the instigator for more and more institutions to really professionalize their assessment of their risks.”
He went on to say that since funding has doubled, it is now possible for many more applicants to successfully apply for the program. “So we are also significantly ramping up our efforts to assist and provide the support needed for institutions to apply and be successful.”
The Secure Community Network is the official homeland security and safety that JFNA founded. Recently, it put up an online tool that allows each Jewish institution to assess the degree of threat, vulnerability and risk to their institution.
“More and more folks are being made aware of the opportunity to apply, and the need, of course, is growing because of the growth of antisemitic threats and security threats generally during this COVID-19 pandemic period,” said Fingerhut. He added that in addition to helping as many institutions as possible apply, JFNA will also be gathering data about the real extent of the need for these security grants. The data would then be presented in Congress to determine whether to advocate further increases in the grants.
“The first step in applying for the grant is to have a professional security assessment that specifically identifies for your building, what are the critical security risks,” he added.
Rob Goldberg from the JFNA Washington Office, and the key lobbyist for the NSGP, told the Post that he expects the grant application to start later this week “for upwards of 50 days or so.”
“Within that period, the states will let the nonprofits know within their every jurisdiction how much time they will have to apply. And it’ll be a short window, probably around four weeks. And because of that short window, JFNA has been working with communities as far back as last October to do our outreach, to raise awareness for the program, to provide our technical assistance and experience.”
“We’re providing assistance to thousands of nonprofit institutions at the moment,” Goldberg added.