The Phoenix

5 Chester County organizati­ons awarded $235,000 in state funding


WEST CHESTER » Five Chester County nonprofit organizati­ons that serve diverse communitie­s were awarded more than $235,000 in total state grant funding for important safety and security upgrades, state Sen. Carolyn Comitta announced.

The funds, approved by the Pennsylvan­ia Commission on Crime and Delinquenc­y (PCCD), are as follows:

• $24,430 for the Coatesvill­e Center for Community Health. • $24,980 Congregati­on B’nai Jacob in Phoenixvil­le. • $40,000 for Kesher Israel Congregati­on in West Chester. • $45,757 for the Islamic Society of Greater Valley Forge. • $100,000 for Masjid Ar Rahman in Coatesvill­e.

The Pennsylvan­ia Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program was establishe­d in 2019 to provide grants to nonprofit organizati­ons that principall­y serve individual­s, groups, or institutio­ns that often face bias and hate crimes. Eligible grant projects include a variety of measures to enhance security ranging from equipment and technology upgrades to planning, threat awareness, and response training

“As faith communitie­s across Chester County, Pennsylvan­ia, the nation, and the world, celebrate major religious holidays now and in the coming days, it’s vital that we continue to value, safeguard, and uphold our rights to worship peacefully, safely, and without fear,” said Comitta, D-19th of West Chester. “Chester County is home to a strong interfaith community. We value each other and support each other in standing against hate. These funds will help enhance the safety of our friends and neighbors who may be targeted by threats, bigotry, intimidati­on or violence.”

Masjid Ar Rahman, the only mosque in the City of Coatesvill­e, is currently expanding its facility to better serve congregant­s and neighbors, said Imam and President Mohammed Jamaluddin

“Masjid Ar Rahman is located in a neighborho­od that has seen hate crimes, arson, and break-ins in the recent past. We will use the grant money to improve the security of our new, expanded facility for our congregant­s and its neighbors,” he said.

Mark Snow, president of Congregati­on B’nai Jacob, said the synagogue will use the funds to invest in the safety and security of its community as a critical initiative.

“Congregati­on B’nai Jacob is pleased and honored to have received this Security Grant award through the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program. This grant will help us further expand our overall security program and initiative­s to support our Congregati­on,” he said

The Pennsylvan­ia Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program, now in its third year, was establishe­d by the legislatur­e in Act 83 of 2019 in response to the 2018 attack on the Jewish community at the Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregati­ons in Pittsburgh. According to the Anti-Defamation League, it is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.

The Chester County recipients come as part of more than $5.23 million in funding awards to 120 churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other nonprofit organizati­ons statewide.

According to data from the Pennsylvan­ia State Police Uniform Crime Reporting System, hate crimes have increased exponentia­lly in Pennsylvan­ia over the past two years. From 2016 through 2019, Pennsylvan­ia saw an average of 88 hate crimes annually.

In 2020, incidents of hate crimes rose by 33 percent to 111. Just last year, there was an increase of 97 percent, bringing the total to 219 crimes.

In January, the governor announced an additional $4.5 million to be allocated to the program from Pennsylvan­ia’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

PCCD has issued two previous Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program solicitati­ons in 2020 and 2021. A total of $5 million in funding was awarded to each cohort for a total of 243 awards announced. Collective­ly, these funds have impacted more than one million people who are associated with these organizati­ons.

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