Homeland Security grant for JFGO
September 28, 2018
The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando announced that it has received a grant under the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative. The grant, which totals almost $130,000, is the only one of its kind for the Orlando area this year.
For several years, members of Congress from Central Florida have pressured the federal government to include Orlando in the special program. Led by Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-7th district), the delegation argued that Orlando’s position as a national tourist destination made it a top target, and the Federal government agreed. In addition to providing millions of dollars for local law enforcement, Orlando’s inclusion on the list provided the opportunity for any non-profit organization in the area to apply for special federal grants designed to help defray the cost of security improvements.
“The process for applying was arduous and highly competitive,” said Ben Friedman, the Federation’s director of community relations. “We received only one-week notice of our eligibility, and applications required approval by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There were a lot of legal and governmental requirements to navigate.” Despite the roadblocks, the grant application ultimately proved successful. The Jewish Federation was the only non-profit organization in the entire Greater Orlando area awarded a grant this year.
The Federation credits much of this success to help from elected officials, including Reps. Darren Soto, Val Demings, and Stephanie Murphy. “We were fortunate that all 3 members of Orlando’s congressional delegation publicly supported our application. It’s likely we would not have made it through without their support,” said Friedman.
Of course, these successes do not come on their own, and the Federation has committed to working with civic leaders to secure critical funding through grants and appropriations. “When elected officials see an active and engaged community, they respond in kind. The Federation is leading that effort, and we are thrilled to see our relationships with political leaders of all levels delivering results for the Jewish community,” said Brad Jacobs, Federation President.
Congresswoman Murphy, whose district includes the Federation’s campus in Maitland, was thrilled with the result. “I am so pleased our central Florida delegation in the U.S. House worked together to get Orlando re-included—after a four-year hiatus—on the list of U.S. cities that receive federal funding to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks,” said Murphy. “As a result of Orlando’s inclusion, non-profit organizations in our city became eligible for a separate federal grant program to strengthen their security systems, and I was proud to support the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando’s successful application. JFGO’s Maitland campus hosts a range of educational and community services with a focus on children and youth—and the safety of these families is of paramount importance.”
Next year, the Federation plans to help other Jewish organizations secure funding, as well, by lending assistance with drafting applications and navigating the political process to other agencies. “Our goal is to make our area one of the top recipients in the state. Thirty organizations in Miami received grants this year, compared to just one in Orlando; we think we can help change that,” said Friedman.