On June 19, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state budget into law, which includes a $2 million appropriation to increase the funding available for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). This achievement is a direct result of leadership efforts of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) in collaboration with all Jewish Federations in Texas.
The additional state funding for the NSGP will supplement the existing $10 million the state annually receives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for these grants. The competitive grants through NSGP are used for items such as fencing, cameras, security doors and training to protect facilities from attacks.
“We thank Governor Abbott and our Texas state legislature for responding to the needs of the Jewish community and all communities facing threats of hatred and violence. We believe that this additional state funding will save lives and ensure that Texans feel safe to gather and worship,” remarked Igor Alterman, president and CEO of JFGD.
In this time of rising antisemitism and hate, providing safety and security training and site assessments for faith-based and other nonprofit organizations is critical. The increase in threats and incidents have directly affected the Dallas-area Jewish community, including but not limited to the antisemitic terrorist attack at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and antisemitic graffiti on the sidewalk of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum in January 2022, online threats toward synagogues in Texas in July 2022 and antisemitic propaganda fliers distributed in a Dallas-area neighborhood in January 2023.
In fall 2022, the JFGD board of directors approved an unbudgeted expenditure to engage in a coordinated and collaborative statewide advocacy effort to secure additional funding from the state. The Jewish Federations of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Houston and San Antonio worked with the Austin office of Husch Blackwell Strategies — a national lobbying firm — to professionally lead the effort during the 2023 legislative session to obtain the $2 million appropriation. In a grassroots effort, Jewish Federations also coordinated with other faith-based groups to educate legislators and advocate for grant funding, available to all eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
Beyond advocacy, JFGD’s Community Relations Department works to educate the Greater Dallas area about the threats of antisemitism, build relationships and strengthen understanding between the diverse faith and ethnic communities and promote the NSGP to other faith and minority communities in the greater Dallas area.
The Federation’s Community Security Department also invests in the safety and security of our local Jewish community, including full security site assessments at no cost to area Jewish nonprofits and consultation services related to the extensive NSGP grant process. In 2022, JFGD assisted in securing more than $1.7 million in local and federal security funds to reinforce protections for Dallas-area Jewish nonprofit facilities.
For more information on the Federation and its work to build and protect a strong and vibrant community, visit jewishdallas.org.
Michelle Golan Friedman, director of community relations and public affairs of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas