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Pascrell and Homeland Chair Thompson Demand Answers on New Security Grant Funding Formula

Rejiggered allocation formula raises questions about impact on communities under threat from growing domestic terrorism

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS-02) have called for answers on how a new scoring system for allocating funds from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) that incorporates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index (SVI) impacts New Jersey and Mississippi. The letter asks questions about the new system and reminds FEMA that funds should be available to bring at-risk nonprofits located in underserved and underrepresented communities into the program, while ensuring availability of funding to at-risk nonprofits not located in underserved or underrepresented communities. 

“[C]oncerns have been raised about FEMA’s plans to incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index (SVI) in scoring NSGP applications.  It is our strong view that, with the $70 million funding increase Congress approved for FY 2022, FEMA should be able to bring at-risk nonprofits located in underserved and underrepresented communities into the program, while ensuring availability of funding to at-risk nonprofits not located in underserved or underrepresented communities,” the members wrote FEMA head Deanne Criswell.

Because the faith-based community and nonprofit institutions often lack the needed resources required to deter, detect, and prevent violent extremist attacks alone, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NSGP grants help fill the gap and play an essential role in keeping threatened communities safe against the rising tide of domestic terrorists.

In May 2022, Reps. Pascrell and Mike McCaul (R-TX-10) announced they led 161 House colleagues requesting a significant increase in NSGP funding for Fiscal Year 2023. In a letter to the leaders of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, the members officially requested that the NSGP program be funded at $360 million, to be split evenly among the NSGP’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP).

Rep. Pascrell regularly leads the fight to increase NSGP funding in the House and works around the clock to obtain needed anti-terror grants for New Jersey. He helped secure more than $9.5 million in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding for New Jersey in July 2020, including $1.08 million for community centers in the Ninth Congressional District.

In 2020, Rep. Pascrell helped to advance legislation to authorize the Nonprofit Security Grant Programs. While the NSGP was previously funded through annual appropriations, the program had never been officially authorized. The Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act (H.R.2476) was signed into law later that year.

The text of the members’ letter is below.

May 27, 2022

 

The Honorable Deanne B. Criswell

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

500 C Street, SW

Washington, D.C. 20472 

 

Dear Administrator Criswell:

As strong supporters of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), we want to see this vital Federal support reach as many at-risk nonprofits as funding will allow.  Recently, concerns have been brought to our attention about changes to how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will score NSGP applications for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.  As such, we are writing to learn more about the new scoring criteria and its impact on the program.

Since the release of the FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity, concerns have been raised about FEMA’s plans to incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index (SVI) in scoring NSGP applications.  It is our strong view that, with the $70 million funding increase Congress approved for FY 2022, FEMA should be able to bring at-risk nonprofits located in underserved and underrepresented communities into the program, while ensuring availability of funding to at-risk nonprofits not located in underserved or underrepresented communities. 

At this time, we are seeking some insights into the NSGP scoring criteria and request the following information by June 9, 2022:

  1. A description of the NSGP scoring process for FY 2022 and how it differs from FY 2021.
  2. An explanation of FEMA’s process for modifying the NSGP application scoring to incorporate SVI.
  1. Information on how many points applications receive for SVI status and whether there are there other plus or minus factors taken into account.
  1. Information on the role State Administrative Agencies play in the scoring of NSGP applications.
  1. Details on the guidance provided by FEMA to States to develop their prioritized list of investment justifications.
  1. Information on how FEMA ensures that all applicants receive full and fair consideration, particularly in light of the introduction of SVI into the scoring process.
  1. An analysis of how FEMA expects past and current applicants, particularly nonprofits in New Jersey and Mississippi, to be impacted given the inclusion of SVI to the scoring process.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  

Sincerely,

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