Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism IN Schools (2022-2023)



BRAVE Schools works in partnership with middle and high schools throughout Western Massachusetts to proactively engage students and staff in preventing violence and strengthening resilience.

Upcoming Events

The next in-person training for educators and school staff participating in BRAVE Schools will be Wednesday, October 4, 2023. That training is not open to the general public. If you are a local educator in Western MA, please contact us if you would like more information!

However, our event on Tuesday, October 3 is free and open to all (on Zoom):

Join us: Tuesday, 10/3 on Zoom - 7pm ET

While it is hard to understand how so many ordinary people came to support Nazi Germany’s rise to power, understanding these dynamics can shed light on the worrying rise of extremism in the US today and how to respond.

Please join us for a screening of the documentary film The Cure for Hate: Bearing Witness to Auschwitz, which weaves together the history of the Nazis with the life story of a former North American neo-Nazi who is now an anti-hate activist, as he visits the memorial to the million Jews murdered at Auschwitz.

As schools struggle to balance support for free speech with a responsibility to protect students from identity-based bullying and harassment, we will explore how to respond effectively to these challenges given the rise in hate-based violence nationwide.

This event will include a discussion and Q&A with BRAVE Schools project co-trainers Tony McAleer (who is the subject of the film) and Robert Örell, and area educators Cara Crandall and Scott Dredge.


About BRAVE Schools

Students today are struggling in their mental health, social lives, and sense of belonging. Unfortunately, this increases their vulnerability to recruitment from hate groups, and students today report being regularly exposed to hate online. At the same time, mass shootings are increasing. Older teens are the age cohort most likely to engage in serious violence.

School communities provide vital support to youth. This project works with the whole school community to strengthen each school’s resilience to violence and extremism.

Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism in Schools (BRAVE Schools) focuses particularly on building student resilience against the spread of hate groups and violent extremism, and preventing future acts of targeted violence.

We use a whole-school approach in middle and high schools to engage a range of students and staff in problem-solving issues that could hinder a positive, safe school climate. Our aim is to enhance school capacity to recognize and address the often-unacknowledged factors that can lead youth down a path toward violence and hate.

BRAVE Schools works by training and supporting a Care Team to lead project implementation within each school, engaging students as well as staff in the process of building awareness and improving violence prevention.

The project objectives are:

Raise awareness

  • Learn to identify risk factors and early warning signs
  • Understand factors that build student resilience

Strengthen processes

  • Create/strengthen integrated systems that support struggling youth, assess behaviors, and provide tiered responses to prevent violence
  • Co-design processes with students

Build resilience

  • Embed proactive violence prevention strategies in the school culture
  • Improve safety of school climate for everyone 

BRAVE Schools combines Karuna Center’s dialogue-based practices with the expertise of two trainers, Robert Örell and Tony McAleer. Both are renowned leaders in creating pathways for people to avoid or exit hate groups, and are themselves former violent extremists who were recruited as youth.

The Alliance for Peacebuilding—a network of 165+ organizations working in 181 countries, of which Karuna Center is a memberwill design and lead the project’s monitoring and evaluation processes, as part of their work to learn about and amplify effective strategies for local peacebuilding in the United States.

Karuna Center’s BRAVE Schools project is one of 43 recipients nationwide funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, opportunity number DHS-22-TTP-132-00-01, and takes a public health approach to violence prevention. The grants were announced in conjunction with the White House’s United We Stand Summit on hate-fueled violence.


Invest in sustainable peace

You can support these initiatives to develop peace in communities impacted by conflict, with a gift to Karuna Center today. Thank you!


Latest Updates

In this excerpt from our event on June 11, 2023 — Bringing the Lessons Home: The Power of Dialogue, Locally and Globally — Sam Camera discusses some of the challenges that school communities face in the wake of the pandemic, and how the BRAVE Schools program is helping. Sam Camera is an Assistant Principal at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School, and a core participant in our BRAVE Schools program.

Parent/guardian info night: How are youth lured into hate online?

How do extremist groups recruit youth online, on gaming platforms and social media? How do I recognize violent extremism and what can be done to prevent and respond to it? What can I do if a loved one is radicalized into a violent mentality promoting hatred?

We held an info session on March 21, 2023 to explore these questions and more, with resource people from our BRAVE Schools program.

A conversation with Loretta Ross, Tony McAleer, and Robert Örell (3/20/23)

Through the lens of the speakers’ lived experiences, we learn about the current context of hate groups and ideologies that promote hatred; the factors that lead people to join violent extremist groups; and the place of radical compassion in confronting the spread of hate in our communities.

One-page flyer:

BRAVE Schools outreachDownload (PDF)

Press release:


Download (.docx)

Robert Örell (left) and Tony McAleer lead a training for school Care Teams, March 2023