Southern Arizona Jewish organizations receive awards from 2021 Nonprofit Security Grant Program

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, along with five other local Jewish agencies, organizations, and synagogues, was recently awarded funding through the Arizona Department of Homeland Security (ADHS)’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to improve campus security measures. JFSA intends to use the majority of the funds awarded to upgrade the Harvey and Deanna Evenchik Center for Philanthropy’s surveillance systems and install gating for multi-point building access, among other improvements.

The five other Southern Arizona Jewish awardees are Congregation Chaverim, University of Arizona Hillel, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Temple Emanu-El, and Handmaker Jewish Services for Aging. In total, the six organizations will recieve more than half a million dollars in funds: JFSA ($121,500), Congregation Chaverim ($144,440), UArizona Hillel ($48,239), JFCS ($77,615), Temple Emanu-El ($45,840), and Handmaker ($150,000).

In total, twenty-eight non-profit organizations in Arizona will receive grants this year.

History of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) petitioned Congress in December 2001 to support the security needs of the nonprofit sector. Beginning in 2003, JFNA – working closely with the Secure Community Network (SCN), as the official safety and security organization of JFNA – launched a major Congressional education campaign. The NSGP was subsequently established in 2004.

The NSGP is a unique initiative designed to provide support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities, including planning and training, to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack. The intent of these funds is to integrate nonprofit preparedness activities with broader state and local preparedness efforts. It is also designed to promote coordination and collaboration in emergency preparedness activities among public and private community representatives, as well as state and local government agencies.

Since the NSGP’s inception, the JFNA has remained the lead advocate and coordinating body in support of the program’s annual appropriations and in providing technical assistance to interested Jewish communal agencies participating in the program.

In 2021 Congress appropriated $180 million for Urban Areas and Non-Urban Areas, twice the amount set aside for these grants in 2020. The process for receiving a grant from NSGP has steadily become more competitive. 2021 saw a record number of applicants, 3,361 requests totaling more than $400M were received, as hate crimes have increased across the country.

Security in the Southern Arizona Jewish Community

Independent of the NSGP, the Federation and Foundation have a record of proactively taking steps to protect the Southern Arizona Jewish community. In 2019, JFSA/JCF appointed Paul Patterson to be the Jewish community security director. Subsequently, Chelsea Gutierrez was also brought into the role. Patterson and Gutierrez have conducted facility assessments of all area synagogues and agencies, ensured best practices, and provided trainings. They continue to serve as resources and are linked to the SCN.

The JCF Community Grants process awarded $5,000 grants to five local synagogues for security improvements in 2020. Applications were submitted by and awarded to Congregation Anshei Israel, Congregation Bet Shalom, Congregation Chofetz Chayim, Congregation Young Israel, and Temple Emanu-El. Each congregation used the funds for unique security improvements specific to their needs such as entryway adjustments and surveillance technology.

In 2021, JCF/JFSA joined in convening more than 60 professional and faith leaders from diverse backgrounds to form a coalition to combat hate and antisemitism in our Southern Arizona Jewish community. The group created, signed, and presented to the press the “Statement on Community and Anti-Semitism for the Religious and Ethnic Leaders of Southern Arizona.