Nonprofit Security Grant Program Needs More Funding


The Nonprofit Security Grant Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency supports nonprofit organizations and religious institutions that are at a high risk of terrorist and other security attacks.

NSGP grants are designed to help fund target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities by grantees. NSGP also works to integrate nonprofit and religious institution preparedness with state and local efforts and to promote coordination and collaboration in emergency preparedness activities.

The Jewish and other faith communities have been major beneficiaries of NSGP. Numerous synagogues, schools and Jewish organizations within our community have received NSGP support for their target hardening and other security upgrades.

But nonprofit and religious institutions’ demand for assistance has far outpaced available funds. Indeed, in this fiscal year, NSGP was only able to fund less than half of the grant applications it received. That is so even though funding for the program was increased in 2023 to $305 million, an increase of more than $50 million from the 2022 total.

Of the 5,257 grant applications received by NSGP for FY2023, only 2,201 were approved for funding.

NSGP divides its funds into two equal pools, one for urban areas and one for non-urban areas. In the urban area segment, 72% of the 2023 grant requests were for houses of worship compared with 50% of non-urban grant requests. And, interestingly, most grant recipients in both segments of the program were first-time applicants – 56% in the urban area group and 77% in the non-urban group.

The need for more NSGP funding is clear. It is essential to help address ever-rising communal security concerns and additional efforts to combat antisemitism. In the administration’s 2024 budget to Congress, President Joe Biden asked for $360 million for NSGP. The House Appropriations Committee recently approved $315 million, reflecting a budget-conscious and modest $10 million increase for the program.

But last week, under mounting Republican pressure to reduce government spending, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut NSGP funding by $18 million as part of an across-the-board reduction in FEMA funding, thereby reducing NSGP’s budget to $286.7 million.

The Appropriations Committee vote is just plain upsetting. Our communal safety and security demand more.

Everyone acknowledges the disturbing rise in extremism and antisemitism and the incessant terror threats to our communities. Our nonprofits and religious institutions are on nearly constant high alert.

We understand that Congress needs to make hard choices when crafting its budget and that not every good program can be funded. But necessary programs must be funded. And the security and safety of our communities as supported by NSGP is just such a program.

We urge Congress to address this issue when the House and Senate meet in conference to resolve budget differences. We will all be a lot better off with the careful investment of protective dollars today to enhance the security of our nonprofits and religious institutions.

Congress shouldn’t wait for another heart-wrenching tragedy to recognize that truth.

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