CHHS’ BRAVE Program Lauded as National Best Practice by The Washington Institute.
In March 2017, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy released a detailed, bi-partisan report within a series of policy recommendations to the Trump Administration. The report, Defeating Ideologically Inspired Violent Extremism: A Strategy to Build Strong Communities and Protect the U.S. Homeland, emphasizes the need for communities to develop programs focused on preventing or countering violent extremism. The report lauds CHHS’s BRAVE (Building Resistance Against Violent Extremism) model as the premier example of a community-led approach to countering violent extremism. Describing it as “[t]he most developed example of [community-led CVE models]…[it aims] to ‘engage a wide range of stakeholders—including faith community leaders, public officials, law enforcement officers, educators, and social service providers—in a way that promotes trust, respect, and positive social interaction.’” While the BRAVE model originated with an interfaith community organization in Montgomery County, Maryland, it was adopted by CHHS in late 2016 and developed into CHHS’s Community Resilience Initiatives program.
The BRAVE framework (Building Resistance Against Violent Extremism) has a core focus on building resilience against violent extremism through the inter-related components of engagement, education, and specialized interventions:
▪ ENGAGE a wide range of stakeholders including faith community leaders, public officials, law enforcement officers, educators, and social service providers form the early warning network of trusted adults or peers.
▪ EDUCATE stakeholders about a range of public safety threats, including potential risk factors of radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism.
▪ CONNECT stakeholders with public and private resources that can provide counseling and other safety net services for vulnerable individuals.
▪ INTERVENE in the lives of troubled individuals by trained professionals using a culturally competent, trauma-informed framework.
CHHS’s Community Resilience Initiatives works with localities to assess and recommend strategic uses of community resources and to build collaborative relationships among community stakeholders, including faith communities, educators, local officials, mental and social service providers and civil society organizations.
While some believe that community-based programs represent a “soft” approach to counterterrorism policy, the Washington Institute’s report emphasizes that such programs empower communities and are necessary to address the breadth of factors that can lead to radicalization to violence. CHHS works with localities to implement the BRAVE model by using a framework that is based upon an all-hazard, community approach to preventing and countering violent extremism domestically. As a alternative to securitized and sometimes stigmatizing approaches public safety, CHHS helps localities to implement the framework by focusing on creating highly functional networks of collaboration that foster social cohesion and resiliency. Utilizing all-hazard, inclusive, and authentically community-led approaches, CHHS is able to use its expertise to deftly integrate preparedness concepts into the resiliency framework, keeping it politically neutral, respectful of civil liberty concerns, and sustainable.
 See Bipartisan Washington Institute Study Group, Defeating Ideologically Inspired Violent Extremism: A strategy to Build Strong Communities and Protect the U.S. Homeland, 1, 18 (2017) available at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/Transition2017-CVE-6.pdf