Life After Hate & ExitUSA

Creating an organization to help extremists leave hate groups

The Problem

Life After hate is a non-profit dealing with how people get indoctrinated into hate groups. Previously, they focused on education through lectures and training session, but they were looking to be more on the ground with people who need help getting out of hate groups. This is where ExitUSA comes: as an on the ground organization to remove people from hate groups. The problem was, the leader from Life After Hate weren't sure how to get this new organization started.

The Solutions

We created an organization from top to bottom including a full brand identity, a launch campaign, organizational offerings, a contact website, and 2 year roadmap to help them start on track with their goals for the organization.

Launch Campaign
The launch campaign centered around our findings in research that children are often the reason individuals decide to leave hate groups. When parents hear their children say their first racial slur it is often a jarring experience that helps them rethink their life. We used this to create an impactful launch campaign to get people to really think about how their lifestyle is going to affect future generations.

Contact Website
The contact website helped expand the ExitUSA reach, so they can help anyone anywhere in the country get out of a hate group. Main features of the site are centered around meeting individuals where they are. In addition to using messages of hope, the website contains practical features such as the quick escape and phone message checkbox. Quick escape allows users to use the escape button on the keyboard to close the website and open a new tab. The message checkbox lets ExitUSA know whether it is okay to leave a message when reaching out, as many of these individuals don't have much privacy and use shared phones and computers.

The Process

Learning from Formers

We talked to former white power group members to understand the pull of the group and why it was so hard to leave. We used their stories to help understand how our message might reach someone who is in a white power group, but might be having doubts about the group and their life inside of it.

Learning from Similar Organizations

We also talked to Robert Orell, a former neo-nazi and director of Exit Sweden, an organization that has been around for 15+ years, helping youth in Sweden get out of neo-nazi groups. Not only did we learn from his story as a neo-nazi, we also learned about the challenges exit organizations face.

Secondary Research

We looked at the online communication and recruitment tactics white power groups use. From blog comments and youtube videos to hate group forums, we used the design of the websites and communication tactics to build a brand that was similar enough to be attractive to groups, but different enough not to be confused with a hate group.

Client Embedded

We worked heavily with the cross country Life After Hate team to develop the organization from the ground up. The two teams worked closely together: we had one member from the team with us at least twice a week to review what we had learned and the direction we were headed. It was also great to hear from the team what their challenges and needs are so we could help them plan the future and add it to our roadmap.

Date

March 2015

My Role

During the Life After Hate & ExitUSA project I was the team lead, client liaison, and the interaction designer. I specifically contributed to developing the launch campaign and the creation of the website.