HARRISBURG (January 7, 2020) – Pennsylvania faith-based nonprofit organizations and those with diverse memberships can now apply for grants for vital security and safety improvements, state Senator Andy Dinniman announced today.

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) today opened the application window for the new Non-Profit Security Grant Program, a program championed by Dinniman and others in the wake of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting and other hate-based crimes and attacks.

A link to the application can be found here. Applications for the first round of funding must be submitted by 11:45 PM on February 14, 2020

 “Today marks another big step in reaffirming that regardless of faith or background, everyone deserves to feel safe in their place of worship,” Dinniman said. “I hope these grants will bring increased security, safety and peace of mind as we continue to stand strong against hate and violence and stand together in protecting the right to worship of all.”

The program, authorized under Act 83 of 2019, allocates $5 million to provide funding for safety and security improvements to facilities used by faith-based nonprofits. Eligible upgrades 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.
  • Specialty-trained canines.
  • Other upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security

The program will award grants to non-profit 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.

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

On October 27, 2018, 11 people were killed and seven were injured (including three police officers and the suspect) in a mass shooting during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life Congregation 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 he “wanted all Jews to die.”

The Tree of Life 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 in recent years.