6 Things Your Congregation Needs to Know About Applying for Federal Security Grants

November 15, 2018Michael H. Goldberg

Synagogue security is a priority for every congregation. Much of the work to be done to enhance your congregation’s security involves planning and training; sometimes, however, a risk assessment will recommend important changes to your physical plant or purchasing equipment, a potentially costly need.

One potential funding opportunity may be grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Here are six things your congregation needs to do before applying for a grant. 

1. Take all the right factors into consideration.

When making the decision to pursue government grants, consider your congregation’s security needs, your financial and human resources, and your congregation’s mission and values. To start, read the URJ’s original 2004 statement on the issue, and our 2018 revision

2. Conduct a vulnerability and threat assessment. 

Assessments may be available from the Department of Homeland Security, the Secure Community Network, local law enforcement, or private companies.  

3. Contact your state administrative agency. 

The federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which works with state agencies to provide grants to eligible institutions. The only way to apply for the grants is through your state’s agency. A directory of state agencies is available on the FEMA website.

Congregations in Canada should consult with Public Safety Canada and their local Federation for more information about grants and other security support, including the Communities at Risk: Securities Infrastructure Program (SIP).

4. Understand the eligibility requirements. 

Grants are only available for particular purposes, and in some cases are only available for specific geographic areas. Consult with local counsel, law enforcement, and your state agency to make sure a NSGP grant is appropriate for your needs. 

5. Prepare well in advance to apply in the spring. 

The NSGP distributes funds on an annual basis. Notice of the availability of grants is typically issued in the spring, with applications from state agencies due a short time later (likely only a month). That means that applications must be submitted to state agencies even sooner (perhaps with only a few days’ notice). Be in touch with your state agency and research the application process so you can move quickly once applications are being accepted, and consult grants.gov for more information and updates. 

6. Stay informed. 

As the URJ learns more information about security grants or other resources, we will continue to share in the Safety and Security group in The Tent. In addition, the Secure Community Network is an invaluable resource for information on all aspects of security for the American Jewish community. 

Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the social network for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook.

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