WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to enhance security at synagogues, mosques, churches, temples, and other houses of worship, community centers, and nonprofit organizations that are considered high-risk for being targeted by hate crimes, U.S. Senator Jack Reed helped include $305 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in the newly signed omnibus appropriations law.  This level of funding is a $55 million increase over the $250 million provided in fiscal year 2022.

The federal program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), bolsters security at institutions, houses of worship, and other potentially threatened nonprofits by allowing them to apply for security enhancement grants of up to $150,000 each.  The federal funds may be used for security measures such as fencing, cameras, and lighting, metal detectors, threat assessments, and hiring and training of security personnel.  The program aims to help nonprofits “support and integrate preparedness activities with broader state and local efforts” and to coordinate emergency preparedness among public and private community representatives.

“Every American, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation should be free to worship without fear of threats, intimidation, or violence.  It’s up to all of us to speak out against antisemitism, bigotry, and hate.  This is a proactive investment in protecting people, religious liberty, and the security of faith-based organizations where people from all walks of life gather together.  It makes institutions less vulnerable to criminal acts of hate,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “Rhode Island remains a bulwark of religious freedom.  We are fortunate to have such a wonderful, vibrant, diverse Jewish community and we stand hand-in-hand in strong support of our Jewish neighbors, friends, and loved ones.  This funding is an important tool to help prevent violent extremism.  It sends a strong, consistent message that we are committed to stopping hate crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

Senator Reed pointed to the historic 1790 letter then-President George Washington wrote after visiting Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island -- the nation’s oldest synagogue -- articulating America’s promise to uphold religious liberty.  President Washington wrote that the U.S. government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” and “requires only that they who live under its protection should [conduct] themselves as good citizens.”

“Rhode Island was founded on religious tolerance.  Hate, bigotry, and antisemitism have no place in Rhode Island,” said Senator Reed.  “We have a shared responsibility to speak out against antisemitism and hate crimes and be good citizens."

According to the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, which tracks antisemitic incidents in our region, there were 25 reported incidents between June and the end of November.  Over the same period the previous year, there were only 6.

A dozen Rhode Island organizations received $1.28 million federal NSGP grants in 2022.