Thursday, July 31, 2008

$75G homeland security $ for SAR schools

by John DeSio
07/31/2008, Riverdale Review

Salanter Akiba of Riverdale has been awarded a $75,000 federal grant through the Department of Homeland Security.

Details of the grant became clear following a Monday press conference by Brooklyn/Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner, a likely candidate for mayor in 2009, during which he pointed to the considerable largesse received by New York institutions through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Weiner, a member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, noted that nonprofit organizations in New York City secured more than $4 million in Homeland Security grants, amounting to 27 percent of all grants delivered nationwide.

"It's high time DHS realized that our nonprofit institutions were at risk,” said Weiner. “Worshipers, museum goers, and hospital visitors expect and deserve a safe environment, and these grants will go a long way towards ensuring their safety."

Neither Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, principal of SAR Academy, nor Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, principal of SAR High School, could be reached for comment as of press time.

Though he was not present at the announcement, Congressman Eliot Engel was also pleased that DHS had done the right thing and moved much-needed homeland security funds to his district.

"These grants are long overdue because of the serious threat that certain religious organizations face in today’s troubled environment,” said Engel. “I have worked to bring these grant requests to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security. I have also fought to ensure that there be a risk-based funding formula which would increase homeland security funds for New York. Reasonable people have long recognized New York as the most highly targeted city, and therefore we must receive our fair share of homeland security dollars."

Weiner pointed out that this year, 59 nonprofits in New York City received funding, for a total of $4.08 million, representing roughly one and a half times the amount given to any other locality. The appropriation exceeds last years total when 40 nonprofits in New York City received a total of $3.2 million.

The grants, made available through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, will provide significant funding for security measures at the very institutions being singled out as potential targets, specifically yeshivas and synagogues throughout the five boroughs.

In the past, the program has funded security enhancements at New York City landmarks such as the Intrepid Museum and hospitals such as the Staten Island University Hospital.

Institutions that qualified for the current grant program were eligible to receive up to $75,000, and those funds can be used to train security personnel and install security measures such as surveillance cameras, barriers and controlled entry systems.

The average award for grant winners is approximately $70,000, and the funds are expected to be delivered within the next 60 days.

SAR qualified for the highest possible grant and was the only institution in The Bronx to receive such funding. It is unclear whether the money is intended for SAR’s academy, high school, or a combination of the two.

Weiner’s office indicated it could not release a full list of grant awardees, citing security concerns put forward by the DHS.