SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Hopes are high for some students and staff on Missouri State (MSU) campus after the University received more than half a million dollars in a federal grant. MSU’s ad team will use the funds it received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue its campaign, which raises awareness about target violence.

Senior student Chase Kilby was a creative director on the Spring 2021 ad team.

“I feel like the sky’s the limit,” Kilby said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but I know it’s only going to be great things.”

Last school year, DHS challenged 25 universities around the country to make an ad campaign about domestic terrorism.

MSU’s ad team accepted the challenge.

“Obviously, that’s a huge issue, and something kind of eight college students can’t necessarily conquer on their own,” Kilby said.

With help from faculty, Kilby and his classmates created a project called “Fuse,” which focused on preventing radicalization. The campaign got its point across using podcasts, an online toolkit and a conversation-based card game. “Fuse” focused on educating people about what to believe online, countering the ‘us versus them’ narrative and identifying radicalization.

“I think our project got the conversation started on campus and in the community,” Kilby said.

The campaign placed second in the nation and $3,000 prize.

“Something I never expected to happen,” Kilby said. “It’s been a cool thing to see.”

In October, DHS gave MSU a grant worth $645,776 to continue its “Fuse” campaign. Dr. Stephen Spates applied for the funding.

“I just want to say how proud I am of this project,” Dr. Spates said. “It started right here at Missouri State, and the students created it. That was the level of excellence, so much that the federal government saw fit.”

The funds will help keep the card game, podcast and website up and running.

“It also provides a staff who will all be working together to continue this project for the next two years,” Dr. Spates said.

Thanks to the grant, the campaign now has two staff members and one faculty member. The grant will pay out a small percentage of their regular jobs. Then, MSU’s ad team will hire four graduate assistants and ten student employees who will be dedicated to the project.

As for what’s next in this project, Dr. Spates says MSU wants to start doing workshops with schools around Springfield, businesses downtown and people in the community.

If you’d like to read some findings from the “Fuse” project, click here.