Teach CA Works to Increase State Security Funding for Non-Profit Organizations


Teach CA Works to Increase State Security Funding for Non-Profit Organizations

Yehudis Litvak

In the wake of recent attacks on places of worship, many religious organizations have come to realize that they need to increase security on their campuses. Some worry that the necessary security measures may be outside of their budget. Fortunately, the State of California may soon increase their security grants to non-profit organizations thanks to the foresight and hard work of Teach CA, a branch of the Orthodox Union.

Teach CA is a subdivision of Teach Coalition, whose mission is advocacy for equitable funding for non-public schools. Founded in response to the tuition crisis, the organization works with state governments to find areas of revenue funding for non-profit organizations. Teach Coalition currently has branches in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California.

“There is a pressing need for additional security funding, woefully inadequate in the State of California compared to other states,” says Dan Mitzner, Director of Political Affairs at Teach Coalition. He explains that while New York State allocates $40 million and New Jersey allocates $22.6 million, California currently allocates only $500,000 in security grants for non-profit organizations.

When this discrepancy came to Teach CA’s attention in 2016, they got together with other faith-based organizations and put together a plan that is currently on its way to a vote in the form of Assembly Bill AB1548.

Currently, the existing government grant program for non-profits at risk of hate-motivated violence covers extra security measures, such as reinforced doors and gates, high-impact lighting, and an alarm system. The bill seeks to increase the allocations.

“Due to the record-high incidents of anti-Semitism and hate crimes around the country, we’ve made a concerted effort to up the grant program to include security personnel,” says Mr. Mitzner. “In light of the recent tragedy, security has taken the spotlight. It is terrible that we had to have this wake-up call. With this bill, nothing like that will happen. The bill allows non-profits to apply for security personnel. Up to $200,000 per institution will go directly towards security needs.”

California Governor Newsom has recently announced that he will be including $15 million in the revised budget. The OU lauds this decision. “We are extremely grateful to the governor and the members of the Jewish Caucus for heeding the call of so many and making the well-being and security of our schools and places of worship a top priority,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane in a press release.

Currently, the bill AB1548 has passed several committees unanimously. “The next step is to ensure that the Senate and the Assembly budget chairs pass it through the committee,” says Mr. Mitzner. “We are very confident that the bill will pass.”

The timing of the vote is not yet clear, and community involvement is always helpful. Mr. Mitzner encourages our readers to get involved with Teach CA’s work. On its website, www.teachcoalition.org/CA, there is an action alert to reach out to legislature. It explains how to email officers, thank the government for their commitment to security, and encourage them to pass this bill.

Many non-profit and faith-based organizations stand to benefit from the new bill. To get involved, organizations can host legislators, familiarize them with our institutions, and advocate for the bill. “School involvement is a tremendous asset for us,” says Mr. Mitzner. He encourages parents in leadership positions to contact him. Teach CA will also be available to help organizations apply for the grant once the bill passes.