Harkins, Merski: More than $46,000 in grants will boost security for area nonprofits

ERIE, March 10 – More than $46,000 in state grants will fund security enhancements for two Erie community centers, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the funding, awarded under the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program, includes $24,955 to the Islamic Association of Erie and $21,125 to the Urban Erie Community Development Corp.  

“No one should ever have to feel afraid or vulnerable to threats of violence, especially when they are gathering in their own community to worship, learn, improve their lives or support their neighbors,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding will help ensure that two well-loved organizations serving our community remain places of education and inspiration while also providing visitors the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are safe.”

Merski said, “Erie pulled together to fight a major safety threat from the pandemic, and thankfully, as more vaccines become available, COVID should continue loosening its grip on our community. But even as public health risks diminish, we need to remain vigilant about protecting residents from other dangers, including security risks. The grants announced today will help provide the resources needed to make that happen.”

The lawmakers said the funding may be used for a broad range of resources, including safety and security planning and training, threat assessments, security upgrades, and equipment such as metal detectors, electronic lock sets, surveillance equipment and other technology.

They said additional funding of $20,498 was awarded to Temple Anshe Hesed, located in the Third Legislative District.

The Erie grants are part of a larger package of more than $5 million awarded under the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Programwhich provides funding to nonprofit organizations serving people or groups the FBI has identified as potential hate-crime targets. Now in its second year, the program was established by Act 83 of 2019, largely in response to the Tree of Life shootings in Pittsburgh. 

Because of the large number of applications and limited funding, priority was given to nonprofits whose organization or membership was the victim of a hate crime and had clearly justified a credible hate-crime threat.

Additional information about the grants is available