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About Us

Our Story

DUCC started in the Spring of 2022 as a project in PERIL Director Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss’ class Terrorism, Extremism, and Education at American University. A group of eight students in the class accepted the opportunity to participate in the Invent2Prevent national competition sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security. The goal of the competition was to create an initiative that prevents targeted violence, and the team decided to create content for elementary school teachers to teach digital literacy skills. They wanted to reach students at the earliest stage before they are exposed to harmful online content, in order to prevent radicalization before it can manifest into targeted violence.

The team created an animated video, lesson plans, and a guide, aiming to teach students digital literacy in a non-politicized way, including topics such as recognizing misinformation, confirmation bias, reliable vs. unreliable sources, as well as reducing prejudice, and embracing cultural diversity. 

They were a top-three finalist in the competition, presented the project at the US Department of Homeland Security, and were awarded first place

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After their win, Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss integrated the DUCC team into PERIL, where they continued the work on the project. The core team continued their work on DUCC, participated in the year-long Invent2Prevent sustainment program with the McCain Institute, and cultivated a plan with PERIL to expand the idea to create a curriculum that could benefit all K-5 students across the nation. 

In order to make their vision of a national digital literacy/SEL curriculum a reality, the DUCC team, along with PERIL's Dr. Brian Hughes, applied for the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program through the US Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3). In the Fall of 2023, the team received the grant to scale up their project and prevent targeted violence by Developing & Using Critical Comprehension in K-5 students nationwide.


Meet the team:


Laura Kralicky

Program Associate &



Emily Stingle

Junior Program Associate & Co-Creator


Nora Lewis

Junior Program Associate & Co-Creator

Christine German

Program Manager


Brian Hughes

PI & PERIL Leadership


Cynthia Miller-Idriss

PERIL Leadership

Media Features

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