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  4. Winners Announced in CP3’s Invent2Prevent Student Program

Winners Announced in CP3’s Invent2Prevent Student Program, Bring Fresh Ideas to Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention

Release Date: March 28, 2024

On January 24, 2024, in Washington, D.C., students from 18 universities and 24 high schools came together to compete in the final chapter of the Fall 2023 Invent2Prevent (I2P) program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3).  

A total of six teams, three high school and three collegiate, presented their projects designed to prevent targeted violence and terrorism within our nation’s communities to a panel of judges from academia, education, and government sectors.  

“Prevention is a communal effort, and programs like I2P give young minds the opportunity to work together to take on the toughest challenges facing the world today,” explained CP3 Director William Braniff.  

The I2P program challenges students to investigate and identify potential risk factors that may lead to violence and develop initiatives that advocate for connectedness and inclusivity within their communities. The competition requires each team to create a program or tool to better educate and build on the strengths of their communities to decrease the likelihood of targeted violence and terrorism.  

Of the six finalists, Iowa State University took first place at the collegiate level, and North Panola Career and Technical Center, from Como, Mississippi, took first place at the high school level. 

Iowa State’s program, MIND SPACE, strives to reduce school shootings by eliminating the stigma of mental health in academic settings and ensuring bystanders feel confident to help those with mental health challenges.  

Iowa State student Kathleen Hepworth said she was grateful for CP3’s support and guidance.  

“The freedom that I2P gave us to choose a topic, such as school shootings, allowed us to make a true impact toward preventing shootings and making real progress for mental health accountability,” Hepworth said.  

The North Panola Career and Technical Center program, Peer No Pressure, strives to reduce bullying and peer pressure through peer-led discussions, engaging skits, and a mentorship program. 

“Peer No Pressure had a very positive impact on our community and grabbed a lot of people’s attention,” said Jeniya Lyons of North Panola. She explained I2P amplified their program’s message. “With the help of I2P, we are definitely making a change in the community.”  

CP3’s Director Braniff said he was inspired by the finalists’ work and commitment to building safe and resilient communities. 

“These students are part of a small but growing community of Americans who understand in their bones that targeted violence and terrorism are preventable. That’s the first step,” Braniff explained. “Once we come to realize that it’s preventable, the only next question is, ‘How do I help?’” 

Since Invent2Prevent began in the spring of 2021, more than 1,200 students have participated, representing 119 universities across 32 states and the District of Columbia, along with 138 high schools from 26 states. The program is a collaboration among CP3, EdVenture Partners, Credence Management Solutions, and the McCain Institute.  

Winners and finalists in the I2P contest become eligible for CP3’s sustainment program, which supports further development of student programs for an additional year. Top programs are also eligible to apply for DHS-funded grants under the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program. More than $3.3 million in grants have been awarded to support and sustain student-developed programs. 

The I2P program is grounded in a public-health informed approach to violence prevention, an approach adopted by CP3 to address risk factors that can increase the likelihood of violence and protective factors that can decrease the likelihood. This approach is executed at state and local levels nationwide by multidisciplinary teams who receive continuing support from CP3. 

University Competition

  • 1st Place, Iowa State University: The winning Iowa State team created MIND SPACE, an initiative that creates a connected, supportive community where bystanders and community members are empowered to seek, direct, and assist those needing mental health attention. MIND SPACE aims to reduce the mental health stigma in academic settings and prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence, specifically school shootings. The initiative ensures bystanders feel confident in aiding those with mental health issues, while helping reduce social withdrawal from people experiencing mental health concerns.  

  • 2nd Place, Middlebury Institute for International Studies: The team created Project Gravity, a chatbot that acts as a resource toolkit to help individuals whose loved ones could be on a path toward self-radicalization. The Project Gravity chatbot provides resources and responses to give individuals the confidence they need to engage in difficult conversations. Project Gravity embraces a public health model of targeted violence prevention by reducing the attractiveness of conspiracy theories through resiliency, building on individual, family, and community levels. 

  • 3rd Place, University of Nebraska: The team created SafeSpace Nebraska, an initiative that focuses on enhancing the preparedness of college students for school shooting events. While school safety protocols have been promoted in high schools, the team thinks preparedness training is severely lacking on college campuses. The project increases awareness of the Run, Hide, Fight active shooter protocol in the university community. Through interactive tactics, such as scenario-based training, SafeSpace Nebraska engages university students and staff to enhance their knowledge of what to do in an active shooter situation on campus. Additionally, SafeSpace Nebraska advocates for the addition of university safety protocols to all university class syllabi through the creation of a .org petition. 

High School Competition

  • 1st Place, North Panola Career and Technical Center: The winning team created Peer No Pressure, a movement dedicated to flipping the script on bullying and peer pressure through peer-led discussions, engaging skits, and a mentorship program.  This initiative is designed to transform the school environment into a place of expression, support, and community connectedness. Peer No Pressure aims to rewrite the narrative on peer pressure and bullying, while cultivating an environment where peer voices matter and produce change. 

  • 2nd Place, Burlington Township High School: The team created CTRL+ALT+DELETE Cyberbullying, where “Being a Bystander is Saying Bye to Your Standards.” The initiative educates fifth grade students on how to identify, report, and stop cyberbullying. Created with four goals in mind, it seeks to educate students about cyberbullying, create a support group among students, provide parents with knowledge and information, and educate students on reporting acts of cyberbullying. The team partnered with the Burlington Township District guidance counselor and the head guidance counselor at Fountain Woods Elementary to bring this project to life. The team worked diligently to create an in-person outreach easy for teachers to implement and effective among their target audience. 

  • 3rd Place, Louisiana Youth Advisory Council: The group created Thao, Pradeep, and Carolina, a children’s book meant to expose kindergarten students to new cultures. Characters in the book introduce their unique cultural holiday by talking about their favorite traditions and how they celebrate. Educating children about diverse cultures early on prevents racism and “othering” in the future. By promoting inclusivity, this book encourages students to be open-minded to unfamiliar ideas and instills positive associations beginning at an early age. 

References herein to non-governmental organizations are for informational purposes only. References do not constitute an official endorsement of the organization or project, its work, or its product or services by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or Federal Government. 

Last Updated: 03/28/2024
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