WEST CHESTER (March 11, 2020) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that the Valley Forge Educational Services will receive $150,000 in state funding to provide security and safety improvements.

The grant is part of an initial $5 million allocation through the Non-Profit Security Grant Program, a program championed by Dinniman and the Senator Democratic Caucus in the wake of the Tree of life synagogue shooting and other hate-based crimes and attacks.

More than 800 applications were received requesting more than $27 million. 

“Today marks another big step in reaffirming that everyone deserves to feel a sense of safety and security, regardless of their racial background or religious affiliation,” Dinniman said. “I hope that with these grants, the Valley Forge Educational Services and all recipients across the Commonwealth find a renewed sense of peace, safety, and security.”

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 included:

·         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 was awarded 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.

Valley Forge Educational Services received the maximum funding available for a specific grant, as the grant awards ranged from $5,000 to $150,000.

Located in Malvern, Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES) offers educational, summer and employment-related programs for individuals with disabilities. Its programs include a collaborative and holistic approach to each child, adolescent and adult, recognizing their unique abilities and needs through team efforts.

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.