On January 25, the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3), in collaboration with EdVenture Partners and the McCain Institute for International Leadership, hosted the finalists of Invent2Prevent, a program that empowers university and high school students to develop innovative projects that help prevent targeted violence and terrorism in their local communities. Duke University and Louisiana Youth Advisory Council, Baton Rouge were named the winners of the university and high school categories, respectively.
“DHS is always seeking ways to expand our work with communities across the country to help prevent acts of targeted violence. Invent2Prevent empowers young people to help prevent this violence using their experiences and knowledge of the issues,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien. “These students are proof that the next generation of leaders can build a more secure and prosperous nation for everyone through key tools such as connection, communication, and digital media.”
Since Invent2Prevent was launched in Spring 2021, more than 700 students in 111 collegiate programs across 32 states and Washington D.C., and 54 high school pilot programs across 20 states have participated in the competition.
“There is nothing more exciting than an auditorium charged with the anticipation of discovering what our Invent2Prevent finalists have created,” said Tony Sgro, Founder and CEO of EdVenture Partners. “With each Invent2Prevent competition, we are consistently reminded of how capable, talented, brilliant, and innovative our nation’s youth are. The level of design, the unique approach to hard topics, and the caliber of execution from each of our finalist teams surpasses all our expectations time and time again. But the greatest pleasure of this program is watching the confidence that quietly builds over the course of the semester, especially for our high school students. To have students walk away knowing that they already possess the ability to create a brighter and safer future and that they are supported in their endeavors to create lasting change is the core mission of Invent2Prevent.”
“It inspires hope and confidence to see this younger generation onstage presenting such innovative solutions to some of the hardest problems in the targeted violence and terrorism prevention space. It’s the highlight of every Invent2Prevent semester,” said Dr. Rachel Nielsen, Director for Preventing Targeted Violence at the McCain Institute. “This program empowers our nation’s youth to address targeted violence in their own ways, knowing the challenges their generation faces. The confidence and excitement that this ultimately builds in our students is priceless. Each competition, we are given a glimpse into the future, and I applaud our students whose work helps shepherd our nation towards a safer, more inclusive way of life.”
During the competition in Washington, D.C, students presented their projects to a panel of judges for a chance to be awarded a grant to support their programs. As part of this semester-long project, each university team evaluated a current threat facing the nation. The teams then identified an opportunity to create a program or tool to better educate a specific target audience on the potential vulnerabilities that could lead individuals to commit acts of targeted violence or terrorism. The three university finalists finished in the following order:
Duke University, Durham, NC: Lumi Media Consulting works to counter the spread of violent extremist ideologies by remodeling anti-hate organizations’ social media presences to better reach their desired audiences, resulting in higher levels of engagement with their sites and increased awareness of resources offered. Lumi Media Consulting provides social media, logo design, video editing and advertising services. Visit the Lumi Media Consulting project here.
University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC: No Name, No Fame is an educational program and movement that calls on journalistic reporters, news stations, press associations, and similar media outlets to change their standards and regulations in how they report mass shootings, by limiting their naming, showing images of, or sharing identifying details about mass shooters. Through a petition and established guidelines that can be used by media outlets, the program aims to encourage media associations to redirect attention towards honoring the lives of victims and those affected instead of providing notoriety to the perpetrators of mass shootings. Visit the No Name, No Fame project here.
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX: AIMS (Adapt, Inform, Mobilize, Secure) is an educational toolkit for government and social media managers to effectively use social media to adapt, inform, mobilize, and secure their audiences during crisis situations. The toolkit informs on how to gain situational awareness, engage and build trust with stakeholders, and share important information with their audience to keep them safe. Visit the AIMS Crisis Prevention & Response Toolkit here.
As part of this semester-long project, each high school team evaluated a current threat facing their school or community and created a program or initiative to better educate a specific target audience on the potential vulnerabilities that could lead individuals to carry out acts of targeted violence or acts of hate. The three high school finalists finished in the following order:
Louisiana Youth Advisory Council, Baton Rouge, LA: Let’s Talk is an interactive card game for 4th and 5th graders to foster more inclusive elementary classrooms throughout the state of Louisiana. By facilitating positive conversations, the game promotes inclusivity and relationship building. In turn, participants are equipped to eradicate social isolation and bullying. Visit the Let’s Talk game here.
Pompano Beach High School, Pompano Beach, FL: Bonding Buddies is an initiative aimed at eliminating social isolation and fostering relationships among Pompano Beach Elementary School youth through mentorship. The initiative pairs older students with younger ones, and leverages activities like gift-giving, bracelet-making, and ice breakers to build relationships and provide stability to students in need. Visit the Bonding Buddies initiative here.
Burlington Township High School, Burlington, NJ: Peace by Piece is a high school club that seeks to bring positive awareness of all people through activities and projects. The club’s focus this year is to spread awareness and information about the religion of Islam. Visit the Peace by Piece project here.
CP3 works with communities to prevent acts of targeted violence and terrorism, including attacks on schools, workplaces, public gatherings and other settings. CP3 seeks to ensure that the leaders of tomorrow play an active role in designing innovative solutions to build more resilient communities today through programs such as Invent2Prevent. Through the DHS CP3 funded sustainment program, collegiate teams are able to further advance and scale their initiatives and projects.
Additionally, through the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program, CP3 provides funding for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, nonprofits and institutions of higher education to establish or enhance their capabilities to prevent targeted violence and terrorism. In 2022, the Department of Homeland Security awarded $20 million in TVTP Grants, of which more than $1 million has been awarded to previous Invent2Prevent projects. For more information on the TVTP Grants Program, please visit www.dhs.gov/tvtpgrants.