Overview of WORDE’s Approach

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).

In 2013, WORDE created an initiative to build community resilience in partnership with over 300 non-governmental organizations, local law enforcement, and other local government agencies. Informally known as the “Montgomery County Model,” the program was not led by the county government. Instead, it operated as a community-led collective impact initiative with involvement from multiple public and private stakeholders.

Our violence prevention approach seeks to:

  • Educate the broad population about public safety threats like violent extremism, and the importance of developing community resiliency initiatives.
  • Increases access for vulnerable individuals to quality social service programs to prevent violence.
  • Strengthens the capacity of community service providers to provide culturally competent, trauma- informed programming that builds up protective factors and decreases potential risk factors in vulnerable individuals’ lives.

Multi-stakeholder Partnerships

Our efforts to build community resilience in Montgomery County, MD were initially executed through 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” for FCWG.

WORDE, with the support of its community partners defined the contours of the prevention-intervention program, which ensured that it was ‘community-led.’ In this capacity, WORDE:

  • Conducted extensive outreach
  • Fostered relationships with public/private partners
  • Led research on violence prevention
  • Determined the scope of multi-stakeholder engagement
  • Cultivated consensus among hundreds of partners,
  • Managed communications, and informed stakeholders of key events and opportunities
  • Provided subject matter expertise

Community – Led Model

Historically, violent extremism and other public safety threats have been within the exclusive purview of law enforcement, but our model empowers the wider community — including faith and ethnic community leaders, social service agencies, educators, counselors, etc. — with knowledge and resources to assist individuals in the pre-criminal space. This approach provides an off-ramp so that law enforcement is no longer the only option for communities that are seeking assistance.

“Community-led” means that the initiative is spearheaded, or led by a non-governmental organization that serves as the backbone organization – developing consensus amongst all the partners about how to define the scope of the partnership, and what issues to address. In short, it gives communities ownership of the agenda.

Clinical Interventions

WORDE advocates that interventions follow a clinical model that is bound by HIPAA and thus is required to protect client confidentiality. A rigorous informed consent process is vital in which exceptions are prominently disclosed and separate releases of information are signed, where necessary. In accordance with ethical and professional standards in the provision of mental health services, exceptions include an imminent harm to self or others, including suicide, homicide, and national security threats.

Prevention Efforts for Youth

WORDE advocates a positive youth development framework to violence prevention that includes increasing protective factors in family, school and community settings; referring vulnerable individuals to social services (i.e. counseling, mentoring, support groups, etc.), and contacting law enforcement only when mandated by law in the case of imminent harm to self or others.

Research Informed & Evidence Based

WORDE specialists conduct field-based research with communities around the world and apply good practices of community building to inform our work.

A 2013-2015 federally-funded process evaluation of our work in Montgomery County determined that we connected faith communities with their local public officials, law enforcement agencies, and one another, in a way that built trust, mutual respect and collaboration on issues ranging from disaster preparedness and community policing, to supporting positive social integration.

In addition, independent researchers have further determined that the program has empowered residents from traditionally isolated communities, minorities, and faith traditions that otherwise had limited connectivity to county government and local law enforcement. In short, it gave these marginalized communities a greater voice.


> Download this factsheet … 

> Download our factsheet on CVE …

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