(Mourners pay their respects at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Photo: Flickr user daveyninCreative Commons)

On October 27, 2018, a white supremacist walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and opened fire, killing eleven people and wounding six.

The mass shooting was the single deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.

Since the election of Donald Trump, white nationalist groups have expanded across the country, emboldened by the current political climate. Consequently, hate crimes have surged. The majority of politically-motivated killings in recent years have been carried out by racist, far-right extremists. Despite this clear, disturbing trend of white nationalist violence, the Trump Administration has dramatically slashed funding for countering racist hate crimes.

While the federal government neglects its duty to protect vulnerable populations, some states are stepping up to fill the void. On January 15, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced The Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program, which offers $5 million in grants to religious organizations and other nonprofits whose constituents may be targeted by racist extremists.

During the announcement of the program, Governor Wolf stated:

These grants … will help our myriad nonprofits address security needs heightened by the heinous attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 and the safety concerns that still exist for religious, social and other nonprofit organizations across the commonwealth.

For religious organizations and nonprofits interested in applying to this new program, the state is accepting applications through February 14.

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