In January of 2023, the Department of Homeland Security hosted the Invent2Prevent finalists. The program works with high school and college students to develop anti-violence and terrorism prevention projects. Duke University and Louisiana Youth Advisory Council, Baton Rouge were named the winners of the university and high school categories, respectively.
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: Countering the spread of violent extremist ideologies by remodeling anti-hate organizations’ social media presences to better reach their desired audiences.
University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC: Calling 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. Encouraging media associations to redirect attention towards honoring the lives of victims and those affected instead of providing notoriety to the perpetrators of mass shootings.
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX: Educating government and social media managers to effectively use social media to adapt, inform, mobilize and secure their audiences during crisis situations. Providing information on how to gain situational awareness, engage and build trust with stakeholders and share important information with their audience to keep them safe.
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: Fostering more inclusive elementary classrooms throughout the state of Louisiana. By facilitating positive conversations, the goal is to promote inclusivity and relationship building and eradicate social isolation and bullying.
Pompano Beach High School, Pompano Beach, FL: Eliminating social isolation and fostering relationships among 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.
Burlington Township High School, Burlington, NJ: Bringing positive awareness of all people through activities and projects. The focus this year is to spread awareness and information about the religion of Islam.