Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism

WORDE’s Community-led Initiative in Montgomery County, MD

WORDE’s efforts to Build Community Resilience Against Violent Extremism (BRAVE) have gained international recognition for our innovative, research informed methodology to advance peace building. Our Community Awareness and Prevention Program (CAPP) was launched in April 2013, and informally known as the “Montgomery County Model.” The multi-stakeholder initiative was designed to foster social cohesion and improve the citizen’s role in public safety — including intervening in the lives of vulnerable individuals before they choose a path of violence. With two federally-funded evaluations of the program, lessons learned from our experience in Montgomery County, MD have been applied to guide communities and law enforcement around the world.


Contact us to learn how WORDE can train your jurisdiction to adapt the program for your region.

Our Approach

CAPP is a community-led model for promoting social cohesion, improving community policing and building resilience against radicalization to violent extremism.


  • The model builds community resilience by incorporating a wide range of stakeholders, including faith community leaders, public officials, law enforcement officers, educators, social service providers, and civic activists. Together, they create a network of trusted adults who can intervene in the lives of troubled individuals.


  • A cornerstone of the program is specialized training and community workshops that generate awareness of the various public safety threats, including radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism.


  • Stakeholders are connected with public and private resources that can provide mental health counseling and other direct services for vulnerable members of the community.


  • Interventions are facilitated by professionals who are trained to reduce potential risk factors of violent extremist behavior, using a culturally competent, trauma-informed framework.
  • The interventions can be part of a prevention scheme or set up as a diversion program in lieu of incarceration.

Faith Community Working Group (FCWG)

WORDE established the International Cultural Center (ICC) in 2011 in Montgomery County, MD to promote social cohesion by bringing diverse faith and ethnic communities together in an atmosphere of trust, respect and collaboration. As a result, we have been able to address issues of mutual concern, from emergency / disaster preparedness, bullying, and internet safety, to supporting positive social integration of refugees and under-served communities. One of the issues that we have particularly developed an expertise is building resilience against violent extremism (BRAVE).

To learn more about our approach, download our BRAVE Factsheet and our informational handout on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

Our efforts to build community resilience were initially executed through the development of the Faith Community Working Group (FCWG). This body brought together representatives from various faith communities to improve engagement with county officials. From 2013-2016, WORDE served as the main facilitator, or “backbone” organization for FCWG. In this capacity we:

  • Conducted extensive outreach to bring in diverse community partners;
  • Fostered relationships with public and private stakeholders;
  • Cultivated consensus among hundreds of partners;
  • Managed communications and informed stakeholders of key events and opportunities; and
  • Led research and programming on violence prevention initiatives and provided subject matter expertise for educational events.

Additional Information


WORDE's Application of Social Action Theory

A  cornerstone of the Community Awareness and Prevention Program (CAPP) is bringing diverse communities together to collaborate on a shared vision, with a single entity providing the central infrastructure as the Backbone Organization that anchored the community-led engagement.

It is important to note that cross-cultural collaboration is not always a smooth process and social science research strongly suggests that merely bringing different groups together, who are likely to view the other groups as “not like us,” stands the risk of increasing intergroup alienation.[1] To bridge the intergroup divide successfully in ways that tend to create lasting change, decades of research in positive social integration theory have demonstrated that several conditions should be met.[2] The BRAVE Model was developed in line with these guidelines to ensure maximum program effectiveness.

[1] See Galen V. Bodenhausen, Stereotypic biases in social decision making and memory: testing process models of stereotype use, 55 J. of Personality and Soc. Psychology 726 (1988); and John F. Dovidio, Nancy Evans, and Richard B. Tyler, 22 J. of Experimental Soc. Psychology 22 (1986); and Chris S. O’Sullivan & Francis T. Durso Effect of Schema-congruent Information on Memory for Stereotypical Attributes, 47 J. Personality and Social Psychology 55 (1984); and  Robert S. Wyer, Jr, Social Memory and Social Judgment, in Social memory and Social Judgement 243 (Paul R. Solomon et al eds., 1988).

[2] See Elliot Aronson & Diane Bridgeman, Jigsaw Groups and the Desegregated Classroom: In Pursuit of Common Goals 5 Personality and Soc. Psychology Bulletin 438 (1979); and Stuart W. Cook, Cooperative Interaction in Multiethnic Contexts, in Groups in Contact: The Psychology Desegregation 155 (1984); and Cornelius Riordan, Equal-Status Interracial Contact: A Review and Revision of the Concept, 2 Int’l. J. of Intercultural Relations 161(1978).


From left to right: George Selim, MCPD Chief Thomas J. Manger, Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, and Matt Levitt

On November 13, 2013, The Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum luncheon with George Selim, J. Thomas Manger, Hedieh Mirahmadi, and Matthew Levitt to discuss how policymakers and law enforcement are addressing homegrown violent extremism.

The forum explores the utility of WORDE’s model and the potential for replicating the community-led initiative in other jurisdictions across America.

George Selim, who at the time served as the Director of Community Partnerships on the White House National Security Staff noted,

“The progress of the Montgomery County effort will help guide federal focus in a number of key regions nationally, and will allow us to leverage ongoing, albeit nascent efforts in many cities and make substantial investments of time and effort in a few critical places. I hope that the success of the Montgomery County model will spur action in other cities in the DC metro area as well as in nearby regions.”

Click here to view the video of the event: Countering Violent Extremism Policy Forum

WORDE can provide a range of services for your jurisdiction to adapt our model for your needs:

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Worde | 19650 Club House Rd, Suite 204 | Montgomery Village, MD 20886 | Tel (202) 595-1355 | Fax (202) 318-2582 | Email