Gov. Wolf announces availability of $5M for organizations targeted by hate crimes

Governor Tom Wolf announced Monday the availability of $5 million in funding to support security enhancement projects for nonprofit organizations serving diverse communities, and more frequently targeted by hate crimes, throughout the commonwealth.

“Hate has no place here in Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “No Pennsylvanian should be afraid to worship with their community, love who they love, or be who they are – that’s why this program is so important to me and I’ve committed $20 million to protecting the diverse communities of this commonwealth.”

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Governor Wolf signed HB 859 to create the Nonprofit Security Program in November 2019, one year after the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting that claimed the lives of 11 worshippers. Since then, the governor has invested $15 million in more than 350 projects across the commonwealth that aim to enhance the physical security for churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other non-profit organizations which face bias and are subject to hate crimes.

Administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), the Nonprofit Security Grant Program administers grants to organizations that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics publication.

The $5 million going toward the program was allocated as a part of this year’s budget. Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) has introduced a bill that would permanently fund the program. She is encouraging eligible Berks County non-profits to apply for funding.

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“I’m hopeful groups in Berks County will take advantage of this opportunity as they have in the past,” Schwank said. “This is an opportunity to fill crucial needs and improve safety in Berks County, especially at places of worship. I believe this program is worthy of yearly funding and will continue to advocate for legislation to make it permanent.”

Interested organizations can find the application and information about the program on PCCD’s website.

Grant awards can range from $5,000 to $150,000 for a wide variety of eligible items, including safety and security planning and training; purchase of safety and security equipment and technology; upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security; and vulnerability and threat assessments.

While Pennsylvania saw an alarming uptick in hate crimes from 2020 through 2021, according to data from the Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime Reporting System, the state is on-track for a decrease in the number of total reported hate crimes for 2022.

From 2016 through 2019, Pennsylvania saw an average of 88 hate crimes annually. In 2020, incidents of hate crimes rose by 27% to 112. Just this past year in 2021, there was a shocking 210% increase to 347 crimes. So far in 2022, 182 hate crimes have been reported which is about 30% less based on a monthly average compared to 2021. It is important to note, however, that hate crimes are overwhelmingly underreported. At one point, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that nearly two-thirds of hate crimes are never reported.

PCCD will accept applications to the program from Friday, September 30, 2022 through Monday, October 31, 2022. Applications will be reviewed by a Commission-established workgroup comprised of representatives of PCCD, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, with awards being announced in December 2022.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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