December 20, 2023 – The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is working to expand security funding for area Jewish institutions, including the recent procurement of more than $1.6 million in national Nonprofit Security Grants and by directly offering additional security micro-grants from Federation funds.
In 2023, 11 Houston Jewish organizations obtained grants from the national Nonprofit Security Grant program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funding, up to $150,000 per institution, provides funds for target hardening measures such as cameras, fencing, building reinforcements, and the hiring of certain security personnel. Each state oversees the allocation of grants to local nonprofit organizations.
“Given the rise in antisemitism across the country, it has become increasingly imperative to secure area institutions. Security has been a priority of the Federation for several years, but now, since October 7, it has become paramount in people’s minds. We are proud to be able to support our organizations in this way to enhance community safety,” said Federation President & CEO Renée Wizig-Barrios.
Federation advocated nationally to increase the amount of funding available and joined with the other Texas Federations to advocate at the state level for expanding the number of institutions receiving the grants.
The Federation’s Community Security Director, Al Tribble, provided security assessments for six organizations that each received the full $150,000 in funding in 2023. In addition to the Federation securing its own grant, the additional five organizations included Chabad Outreach of Houston, Congregation Beth El, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, Robert M. Beren Academy, and The Emery/Weiner School.
Five additional Houston Jewish organizations were awarded Nonprofit Security Grant funds ranging from $147,815 – $150,000. Local grant recipients were B’nai B’rith Senior Housing, Chabad of West Houston, Congregation Beth Rambam, Congregation Beth Shalom of the Woodlands, and Alexander Jewish Family Service.
“Congregation Beth El in Missouri City is very grateful to the Jewish Federation for making the Secure Community Network available to all Jewish entities throughout the Houston area. We are in the process of being able to upgrade our security and the timing couldn’t be any more important,” said Congregation Beth El Immediate Past President Jodi Kessler.
The Federation worked directly with each institution to help them initiate the application process, which is administered by the Texas Governor’s Office. This included conducting threat assessments, sharing national and local resources, and helping organizations create their investment justification support as part of their grant application.
“Providing security assessments for our Jewish organizations is critical to improving their facilities security posture,” Tribble said. “These can range in cost from $6,500 – $10,000 from private companies and the Federation and SCN through their security partnership are able to offer this at no cost to our community.”
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) led the effort to create the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which was established by Congress in 2004. Since then, the Houston Federation has played a role in assisting local Jewish institutions with the application process.
The Federation is also providing $75,000 for security micro-grants to organizations that need additional target hardening and require resources quickly. Initial grants will be up to $4,000 per organization. Awards are being given on a rolling basis. Applications for the first round of funding are due January 5.
To apply, organizations should contact Federation Chief Strategy and Planning Officer Jessica Segal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-729-7000.