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McCain Institute’s Invent2Prevent Campaign In The News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The McCain Institute’s Invent2Prevent campaign was in the news today in a story by the Monterey Herald about Middlebury Institute of International Studies being selected as a national finalist in the Invent2Prevent Fall 2021 competition. Out of the 20 university teams competing this semester, Howard University, Middlebury Institute of International Studies and University of South Carolina were selected to participate in a virtual competition on Tuesday, February Feb. 10, 2022, at 1 p.m. ET, streamed live HERE.

View excerpts from the article below. Click HERE to read the full article.

Monterey Herald: Middlebury Institute moves forward in national competition
By Tess Kenny
January 20, 2021

MONTEREY — When Courtney Cano and Kaitlyn Tierney applied to the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, they did so looking for an experiential program, one that allowed them to implement as much as they theorized. And they weren’t disappointed.

Since late August, the pair — alongside 11 other Middlebury students — have participated in Invent2Prevent, a collegiate competition that asks university teams to address hate, bias and extremism through student-built campaigns. Last week, the Middlebury team became one of three finalists selected to continue on in the final round of competition, which will be conducted virtually in February. If chosen, the group will receive $5,000 to help expand and sustain their project through upcoming semesters, and maybe even beyond their time at the institute.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Invent2Prevent is a national competition run by the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University and EdVenture Partners, an organization that develops industry-education partnership programs.

Through the course of a 15-week semester, competing universities — this year there were 20 — identified a form of targeted violence, which occurs when a specific individual or group is subject to attack and discrimination, and developed an initiative, product or tool to address their chosen threat.

At Middlebury, the focus landed on male supremacy and how misogyny can give way to extremism, particularly online. To tackle the problem, students explored more sustainable methods for diverting individuals away from these “hateful rabbit holes,” Tierney explained.

All facilitated through a class devoted to the competition, students completed their own original research and ultimately came up with “Diverting Hate,” where at-risk populations are located online and intercepted to direct attention toward healthier conversations and a mental health resource hub specially curated for the initiative.

Though still in the beginning stages of trying out their idea, having only tested their methodology on Twitter, the students regard their work as a product of the diverse population at Middlebury.

Brette Steele, senior director of preventing targeted violence at the McCain Institute, reiterated Sgro’s sentiment, adding that Middlebury’s project was not only notable, but also functional — a valuable combination, she explained.

“The students at Middlebury created a product, something tangible that took ideas we’ve seen elsewhere across the field and applied them to an evidence-based practice that works,” said Steele.

After reviewing the Middlebury team’s work, Steele also found herself encouraged by the project’s long-term viability, pointing toward the possibility of expanding students’ methodology to address misogyny and prevent extremism on a variety of online platforms.

Tierney and Cano are equally excited for what’s to come after the competition concludes in February. No matter who wins, all three finalists have the opportunity to continue working on their campaigns through a year-long sustainment program sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships. In addition, Tierney, Cano and other students committed to sustaining the project plan to apply for grants, as well as utilize Middlebury-based resources to realize their full vision.

“Ultimately, I hope to make the internet a safer place, our society a little less polarized, and just create a better world,” said Tierney.

Invent2Prevent’s final competition will be streamed live on YouTube starting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 10. and can be accessed at

About the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University
Inspired by Senator John S. McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute for International Leadership 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.

Publish Date
January 21, 2022