For Immediate Release: February 5, 2024
North Panola Career and Technical Center wins top prize in national Invent2Prevent contest to combat violence
North Panola Career and Technical Center students receive the first place award in the national Invent2Prevent contest
from Bill Braniff, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3.)
Photo credit: Arizona State University McCain staff
JACKSON, Miss. – North Panola Career and Technical Center was recently named the national high school winner of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Invent2Prevent (I2P) contest, which challenges students to create and implement peer-developed initiatives, products, and tools to prevent targeted violence and hate.
On Jan. 24, DHS’ Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3), hosted 27 students in Washington, D.C. who were selected as finalists from three out of 18 universities and three out of 24 high schools. The finalists developed innovative projects to help prevent targeted violence and terrorism in their communities. Iowa State University and North Panola Career and Technical Center were named the winners of the university and high school categories, respectively.
As part of a semester-long project, each team evaluated a current threat facing the nation, such as campus safety, cyberbullying, and violent extremism. The teams then created a program or tool to educate or build on the strengths of their community to decrease the likelihood of targeted violence and terrorism. During the final round of competition in Washington, D.C., students presented their projects to a panel of judges for the opportunity to be awarded funding to carry out their proposed initiatives. These teams will use the resources to further advance and scale their initiatives and projects.
The North Panola Career and Technical Center team created Peer No Pressure, an initiative dedicated to providing students, ages 12-18, with a safe and supportive space to minimize bullying and peer pressure, through the use of peer-led discussions, engaging skits, and a mentorship program. Peer No Pressure seeks to rewrite the narrative on peer pressure and bullying, while cultivating an environment where peers’ voices matter and produce change. Peer No Pressure supports embracing empathy and fostering a culture of prevention that results in a shared commitment to create safe spaces and positive relationships to form a united front against bullying and peer pressure.
“Invent2Prevent has been very helpful and encouraging during our semester of work. They gave us a free space to express an important cause in our community,” said Jeniya Lyons, student at North Panola Career and Technical Center. “Peer No Pressure had a very positive impact on our community and grabbed a lot of people’s attention. With us being able to amplify our message even more with the help of I2P, we are definitely making a change in the community.”
“Prevention is a community effort, and programs like I2P give young minds the opportunity to work together to take on the toughest challenges facing the world today,” said CP3 Director William Braniff. “The next generation of changemakers understand that acts of targeted violence and terrorism are often preventable, and they are helping their peers and their schools do just that. I am inspired by their work and their commitment to building safe and resilient communities.”
Thirteen I2P teams have successfully continued their projects through the McCain Institute Sustainment Program, and four of those teams have secured additional funding through DHS CP3’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program. The I2P contest launched in spring 2021, and more than 1,200 students from 119 universities across 32 states and Washington, D.C., and 138 high schools across 25 states have participated.
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 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, DHS awarded $20 million in TVTP Grants, of which more than $1 million has been awarded to amplify the impact of previous Invent2Prevent projects.
For more information on the TVTP Grants Program, visit dhs.gov/tvtpgrants.
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