Schools from Washington, D.C., Missouri, North Dakota, Alabama, Ohio, and Massachusetts to compete in final competition
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The McCain Institute at Arizona State University and EdVenture Partners today announced the top three collegiate finalists for its Invent2Prevent Spring 2022 competition. American University, Missouri State University, and the University of North Dakota will contend for the top prize later this month. A total of 22 university teams competed this semester.
Invent2Prevent also piloted a high school version of its program this semester. The top three high school finalists are Bob Jones High School in Alabama, Marysville High School in Ohio, and Newburyport High School in Massachusetts. A total of 17 high school teams competed in the new iteration of this program.
The finalists will participate in a live competition on Tuesday, June 21, and Wednesday, June 22, in Washington, D.C.
“As our nation continues to reel from the tragic events in Buffalo and Uvalde, Invent2Prevent empowers our youth to safely face the current challenges of our times and gives voices and resources to the ideas that will help pave the way for a safer and brighter future,” said Brette Steele, senior director of preventing targeted violence at the McCain Institute. “We are thrilled to expand this program to incorporate high school students and are truly impressed with the caliber and quality of the projects put forward by all our teams. We look forward to welcoming students to Washington, D.C., for this in-person event and watching each team shine in their much-deserved spotlight.”
As part of this semester long project, each university team evaluated a current threat facing the nation. They 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 consider targeted violence or terrorist acts using a modest budget of $2,000. Each team will provide a 15-minute overview of their specific effort during the in-person final.
About the collegiate finalists:
American University, Washington, D.C.: D.U.C.C. – Developing and Using Critical Comprehension is an educational tool combatting misinformation through critical comprehension skills. The D.U.C.C. program cultivates digital literacy among at-risk youth through a comprehensive multi-tactic approach making them less vulnerable and less likely to engage with extremist content online. The D.U.C.C. program consists of online resources and tools equipping students with the critical thinking and emotional intelligence skills needed to identify misinformation and dangerous behaviors online. The program can be accessed by students, parents, and teachers through an online hub. Visit the D.U.C.C. project at: https://www.ducc.online/
Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo.: Caliber Gaming Alliance focuses on building protective factors in former military service members and local at-risk youth through pro-social engagement, community connectedness, and impactful mentorships. Caliber uses gaming to promote real-life connections among community members in a hate-free environment to reduce risk factors and susceptibility to radicalization among veterans. Caliber’s game nights and discord server offers members an opportunity to connect, while the mentorship program gives veterans opportunities to educate members on how to protect themselves online through three key pillars: online safety, identifying hate speech, and promoting connections through gaming. Visit the CALIBER project at: https://calibergaming.org/
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D.: Be S.E.E.N.N. is an educational program and movement designed to look at the invisibility issues Native Americans face in the United States. This invisibility can lead to Native Americans becoming targets of violence by hate groups and discriminated against. Be S.E.E.N.N. consists of an education module to discuss and inform users about Native Americans and their cultures to lessen the perpetuation of stereotypes, racist ideas, and targeted violence while also addressing the invisibility issues. The education module also allows students the opportunity to earn a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion badge upon completion. Visit the Be S.E.E.N.N. project at: https://www.facebook.com/beSEENN22
EdVenture Partners’ peer-to-peer programs empower competitions worldwide that invite university students to develop messaging and digital media campaigns to address hate, bias and extremism.
“There is an extra feeling of excitement this semester as we welcome our high school participants to stage for the very first time,” said Tony Sgro, founder and chief executive officer of EdVenture Partners. “Both our collegiate and high school teams have impressed us by taking on the important topics of targeted violence, hate and terrorism in their communities with innovation and creativity. Many of our students have witnessed the impact of targeted violence in their schools and communities, and these teams have masterfully risen to the challenge of navigating a dynamic landscape with youthful enthusiasm, professionalism and maturity beyond their years.”
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 consider targeted violence or acts of hate. Each of the three finalists will provide a 12-minute overview of their specific effort during the in-person final.
About the high school finalists:
Bob Jones High School, Bob Jones, Ala.: BJ Connect! was created after identifying a link between isolation and mental health issues. This initiative provides an outlet for students to connect with other students without the presence of any social stigmas. The target audience is high school students at Bob Jones who are searching for community and an environment conducive for fostering conversations and friendships. The secondary target audience is Bob Jones faculty who promote a supportive community that recognizes and mitigates social isolation. The initiative encourages communication and connection through weekly Patriot Path sessions while also providing mental health resources through their social media pages. Additionally, the team created the Ask & Tell Card Game to foster new friendships and communication. The game is available in card stock as well as on Quizlet for an online option. Visit the BJ Connect! at: instagram.com/officialbjconnect/
Newburyport High School, Newburyport, Mass.: E.P.I.C. is a project that combats isolation and exclusion among a vulnerable population to mitigate potential acts of targeted violence. Their target audience is at-risk eighth-grade Newburyport students who have lost two “normal” years of schooling due to COVID. E.P.I.C. consists of an educational curriculum of reading and writing. Once students complete this curriculum, they are rewarded with a group hiking expedition. Additionally, the team created the E.P.I.C. escape room to encourage students to work together through a challenging situation in which success is impossible without teamwork. To successfully solve the escape room, students must put aside their differences and unite with a common goal. The initiative also features Listen2Learn, social media content created to make members of the Newburyport community feel heard and promote inclusivity by sharing stories of welcoming, or unwelcoming times. Visit the EPIC project at: instagram.com/nbpt_voices/
Marysville High School, Marysville, Ohio: High Five REACT was created with the goal to cultivate a high school club that uses games and digital content to mentor elementary and middle school students, promoting pro-social experiences and building protective factors through interpersonal skills and healthy relationships. The team is working to build a mentoring program, similar to Big Brother/Sister, between primary and secondary students to encourage the SEL curriculum. Throughout the mentorship program, this team teaches the foundations to maintain healthy relationships and to forge connections with peers. This initiative works to build characteristics in these primary students that enable them to be successful in social-emotional situations/conflicts. High Five also promotes pro-social experiences and hopes to prevent future instances of bullying or discrimination in their schools. Visit the High Five REACT project at: www.high5mevsd.org/
The Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Programs, Prevention, and Partnerships is proud to sponsor the in-person competition. Collegiate finalists will compete for cash prizes with first place receiving $5,000, second place $3,000 and third place $1,000. All high school and collegiate teams are eligible to apply for scholarships, with additional sustainment funds available for collegiate teams, through the DHS Center for Programs, Prevention, and Partnerships.
About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
Inspired by Senator John S. McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute is fighting to secure democracy and alliances, defend human rights, protect the vulnerable and advance character-driven leadership, both at home and around the world.
About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.