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empty coffers

Nonprofit security grant acceptance rate falls to 42%, despite funding increase

Total applications for the nonprofit security grant program surged in 2023, leading to a deeper funding deficit than in other recent years

ANDY JACOBSOHN/AFP via Getty Images

A police car sits in front of the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

The application acceptance rate for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program plummeted to under 42% in 2023, as increased funding provided for the program failed to keep pace with a significant increase in application volume.

A total of 5,257 grant applications were submitted for the 2023 funding cycle, with 2,201 approved for funding, according to an individual familiar with the data. In total, $679 million in funds were requested, with a pool of $305 million available for the year. Allocations for the NSGP, which provides federal funding for nonprofits and religious institutions to improve their security, were released on Friday.

The acceptance rate dropped 10 percentage points from 52% in 2022, and also came in below the 46% acceptance rate in 2021. Funding for the program was increased from $250 million to $305 million for 2023, but application volume also surged; 3,470 applications were submitted in 2022, for a total of $447 million in requests.

The program is divided between two equal pools of money, one for urban areas and one for non-urban areas. Among urban-area grant recipients, 65% were Jewish institutions; 21% of non-urban grant recipients were Jewish institutions. Overall, within the urban area segment, 72% of grant recipients were houses of worship, compared to half of non-urban grant recipients.

Nathan Diament, the executive director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told Jewish Insider that OU Advocacy is “grateful” for the allocations, noting that $305 million was a record-high funding level.

“But the fact that those funds covered less than half the requests is the best evidence that Congress must fund NSGP at a higher level,” Diament continued. “We need more resources for this program — even in a tight budget environment.”

Diament added that “the Biden administration engaged in very active outreach around NSGP — which is a key reason why a record level of applications came in.”

A majority of grant recipients in both segments of the program were first-time applicants — 56% in the urban area segment and 77% in the non-urban segment.

Many Jewish groups and lawmakers, as well as the White House, are pushing for $360 million in funding for 2024, a target that has remained consistent for several years. Congress has increased funding annually for the past several years, but has thus far fallen short of the target level. 

“Jewish Federations are grateful to the federal government for recognizing the dire need for communal security, especially during this time of rising antisemitism that the Jewish community is facing,” Karen Paikin Barall, associate vice president of public affairs and executive director of Advocacy Corps for Jewish Federations of North America, told JI. “At the same time, we recognize that the current funding level is meeting less than half of the nonprofit community’s growing security needs. We will continue to advocate for $360 million in this fiscal year to meet the demands of many nonprofits still needing resources to purchase essential equipment to keep their communities safe and secure.”

The House Appropriations Committee approved $315 million, a $10 million increase, for 2024. The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to mark up its version of the Homeland Security funding bill later this week. House Republicans are seeking to implement significant funding cuts across the federal government for 2024.

“With antisemitism and extremism at historic levels, increasing the funding allocation for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program remains a key priority. That’s why the $360 million requested in the president’s budget and called for in the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism is the minimum needed to adequately address the rising threat,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told JI. “We hope to see robust funding in the Senate Homeland Appropriations bill this week that will help protect at-risk nonprofits and institutions across the country.”

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