Ohio passes $7.3 million program to upgrade nonprofits’ security against terrorism


(JTA) — The Ohio State Legislature passed a $7.3 million security grant program to help nonprofit groups secure their facilities against terror attacks.

The legislation passed last week, which allows for individual grants of up to $100,000, is modeled after a federal program that has seen much of the funding go to Jewish institutions.

Ohio Jewish Communities lobby had provided information to the state Senate about the vulnerabilities of schools, synagogues and community centers, the lobbying group said in a statement.

“Acts of terrorism unfortunately continue to threaten the security of Ohio citizens in what should be places of peace and safety,” Senate President Keith Faber said in a statement. “Helping our nonprofit organizations equip themselves to deal with this reality is important. Preparation saves lives.”

Since its inception 10 years ago, the federal Nonprofit Security Grants Program has provided the majority of its funding, or more than $184 million, to Jewish schools, synagogues and other nonprofits. Some $20 million was allocated in 2016, much of it to Jewish agencies. Cleveland-area nonprofits received some $200,000 from the federal program for this year.

Passage of the state program comes less than a month after a car-ramming and stabbing attack at the Ohio State University in Columbus that injured several students. Last year, two Ohio Jewish day schools were the target of bomb threats, according to Ohio Jewish Communities, and numerous instances of suspicious activity have been logged and investigated at Jewish sites across the state, an increase over previous years.

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