Three Berks organizations receive nonprofit Security Grant Program funding

Three organizations located in Pennsylvania’s 11th Senatorial District received a total of $194,000 in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which stemmed from legislation introduced by Sen. Judy Schwank (Act 83 of 2019), is available to nonprofit entities that principally serve individuals, groups, or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for a single bias hate crime incident identified by the FBI. Those incident categories include: race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.

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Eligible projects include: Purchase of safety and security equipment. Threat awareness and response training. Upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security. Vulnerability and threat assessments. Any other safety or security-related project that enhances the safety or security of the nonprofit organization

Schwank was a part of discussions with the governor and other state legislators about improving security for organizations that could be the targets of a hate crime following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October of 2018.

During the current legislative session, Schwank introduced SB 228, which would permanently fund the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The bill was referred to the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Feb 22, 2021 and is yet to receive consideration.

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Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that $4.5 million in American Rescue Plan dollars would be put towards the program on top of the $500,000 remaining available funds. After funding for the program was replenished, Schwank reached out to eligible organizations in her district to inform them about the grant opportunity.

“This is an investment in the safety and security of the diverse communities that are the tapestry of Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s unfortunate that hate continues to surface here, hurting Pennsylvanians and tearing apart our communities. I will continue to stand with and support these communities in any way I can.”

The local organizations awarded funding are the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts: $150,000, Sacred Heart School: $25,000, Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom: $19,094.

“This is a program I’m proud to support and I’m very happy to see organizations in Berks County consistently take advantage of this opportunity,” Schwank said. “This is a good example of how small dollar grants can go a long way towards improving community safety. Everyone deserves to feel safe, especially in schools or places of worship. I remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement in Harrisburg to make the Nonprofit Security Grant Program permanent.”

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