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Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Program Evaluations

Recommendations to improve the impact and effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) TVTP program


To capture accomplishments of DHS TVTP grantees for Fiscal Year 2020, and to recommend refinements to the grant program where necessary.


We interviewed and surveyed six TVTP grantees to identify measurable outputs and outcomes of their projects and to document their processes, challenges, and solutions.


This project will contribute to the TVTP evidence base and provide recommendations and observations that will inform future implementers of prevention programs and improve the effectiveness of the DHS TVTP grant program.

Radicalization has emerged in recent decades as a significant global security threat. Most concerning is the way that vulnerable populations (e.g., youth, isolated individuals) are targeted subtly in the most easily accessible yet unexpected places, such as video games and social media. No single entity—whether government, military, or law enforcement—can combat this threat without collaboration.

In response to this threat and the need to coordinate efforts, Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) has become prominent in local and federal government efforts. P/CVE leverages local resources to address and prevent problems related to radicalization and violent extremism in the community. This whole-of-society approach brings leaders together from all corners of society (e.g., law enforcement, mental health, education) to identify potential threats and solve problems locally. 

To support local prevention efforts, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships developed a grant program in 2016 (renamed the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention [TVTP] Program in 2020) to provide funding to agencies and organizations implementing P/CVE practices that benefit local communities. To strengthen this program for the future, RTI International evaluated a subset of the 2016 grantees and recently evaluated six grantees from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 cohort. Our findings and recommendations can help ensure the continued success of the program and grantees.

Preparing TVTP Grantees for Success

We developed several recommendations based on our findings that grantees can use to ensure their continued success:

  • Develop continuity plans to facilitate staff transitions in the event of turnover
  • Design Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) measures and data collection plans to measure results effectively
  • Draw on existing networks of other practitioners and community partners
  • Invest in local, community-based research and relationships up front and throughout project implementation to facilitate grant implementation and sustainability

To improve TVTP Program administration, we recommend that DHS:

  • Enhance data sharing with researchers
  • Translate DHS resources into other languages
  • Extend the length of program funding

Evaluating DHS TVTP Grantees

From 2022 to 2023, our researchers conducted monthly telephone calls with grantee staff to learn about the implementation of their grant programs. Through these conversations, researchers learned about the challenges grantees faced in real time. As the P/CVE field is still relatively new, few road maps have been available to help grantees navigate unanticipated hurdles. To overcome these challenges while minimizing unanticipated negative consequences, grantees needed to develop innovative methods in real time.

We also conducted surveys to identify grantee-specific challenges, explore how partners were engaging in the grant projects, and document changes made from expected to actual implementation. Survey responses also helped identify gaps in our discussions with grantees needing follow-up support. We interviewed project staff, partners, trainers, training participants, and any other invested parties involved in the grant implementation.

Summarizing TVTP Grantee Approaches and Successes

We discovered that communities come together in diverse ways to prevent radicalization, and there is more than one way to address C/PCE. Collectively, the evaluated grantees partnered with academic or research institutions, behavioral health agencies, community-based organizations, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and other nongovernmental organizations. Grantees conducted trainings on relevant topics, such as violence prevention, threat/risk assessment, and bystander intervention training; provided direct services to individuals at risk of radicalization; established relevant networks; and developed state government–level prevention strategies.

Training and Program Implementation. The six grantees collectively trained more than 2,500 individuals and triaged or managed 257 cases of concern. One grantee, the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices, led three states in developing State Prevention Strategies that were approved by their respective governors. As of April 2023, one of these states, New York, had: established a Threat Assessment and Management (TAM) program, created and staffed a unit in the New York State Intelligence Center dedicated to tracking domestic extremism, distributed TAM guidance documents to local jurisdictions, convened a TAM summit, and launched a Domestic Terrorism Prevention grant program that has already disbursed $10 million to local jurisdictions.

Another grantee, Arizona State University’s McCain Institute, created a National Prevention Practitioners Network, that has more than 900 members and a directory of clinicians and resources. The Network continues to operate and grow, regularly bringing together practitioners for conferences and providing opportunities for ongoing information sharing to connect practitioners to each other and to helpful resources.

Life After Hate extensively revised its ExitUSA program, which provides services to individuals either exiting from Domestic Violent Extremist (DVE) groups or helping someone else exit. These changes reoriented the ExitUSA program—which was initially designed by individuals who had previously exited DVE groups themselves—toward a professionalized, social work–based, case management approach. Life After Hate redesigned its client screening and intake workflow, hired licensed professionals to expand staff capacity and competencies, increased the number of trusted partners to whom they could refer clients, and redesigned the mentorship services they provide after clients have completed initial services. During its grant, Life After Hate reached 156 clients and increased the number of meetings and length of time that clients remained engaged in the program.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration. The six grantees collaborated with dozens of partners at the individual and organizational level. Most of these collaboration teams developed mission statements and memoranda of understanding to codify their relationships. Fluid communication among partners was noted as key for their success.

Improved Data Collection Between the 2016 and 2020 Cohorts. Improved data collection was largely due to DHS implementing RTI’s previous recommendations and introducing Implementation and Measurement Plans, which required goals, objectives, activities, performance measures, and data collection plans. Grantees in FY 2020 were also better prepared to gather and share data with evaluators than previous grantees.

Advancing TVTP Through Comprehensive Evaluation

RTI has evaluated or is evaluating 32 unique DHS TVTP grant projects, including those awarded in FY 2021, 2022, and 2023. Through these ongoing evaluations, RTI is working to build the TVTP field and its evidence base.

Learn more about our research in preventing targeted violence and terrorism and security threats and extremism.