1 Year After Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, Gov. & Legislators Award Funding To Secure Jewish Schools

HARRISBURG, PA – One year after the deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Teach PA, a project of the Orthodox Union (OU) and a leading advocate for equitable funding for Pennsylvania’s nonpublic schools, lauds Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Legislature for providing $3.2 million to secure nonpublic schools – including nine Jewish day schools and yeshivas. 

Following the deadly anti-Semitic attack at Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in October 2018, Teach PA and Jewish day school leaders across the commonwealth redoubled efforts to make institutions safer. Responding to calls for more safety provisions, lawmakers included additional funds and expanded safety opportunities for at-risk schools in the FY2019-2020 Budget. Pennsylvania was the first state in the nation to fund security personnel at nonpublic schools through the Safe Schools Targeted Grant Program and now, nearly five years later, the Commonwealth has expanded safety provisions to include security equipment and programs grants.

“We thank Gov. Wolf and our state legislators for awarding these funds to nonpublic schools, making our students and educators safe,” said Teach PA Executive Director Arielle Frankston-Morris. “The rise in school violence and anti-Semitic attacks, motivated us to spearhead this security campaign and we are thrilled to see these awards announced.”

Teach PA initiated and led an advocacy campaign involving parents, students and community members working alongside policymakers in Harrisburg to pass this important historic bill. Following passage in June 2019, nonpublic schools throughout Pennsylvania were able to apply for three safety grants. Although limited funds created a competitive applicant field prohibiting every candidate from receiving an award, the nonpublic school community rejoiced as the program – which saw a 597-percent increase over last year – began its rollout. Recipient schools are able to use the funding immediately and apply it to eligible safety expenditures going back to July 2019.

“We are grateful to our legislative champions and partners in advocacy for working together with us to make Pennsylvania’s schools safer in these scary times,” said Teach Coalition Director of State Political Affairs Dan Mitzner. “With continued teamwork, we hope to achieve even more, to keep all Pennsylvania’s schoolchildren and at-risk institutions safe.”

Teach PA, a division of Teach Coalition, was founded in 2013 to advocate for equitable government funding for Pennsylvania nonpublic schools. It has helped secure over $85 million in scholarships for Jewish day school students and spearheaded the creation and maintenance of a school safety program that has delivered nearly $ 1 million to eleven schools. Currently, 20 day-schools and yeshivas receive support through Teach PA’s efforts. For more information, visit https://teachcoalition.org/pa/.