GiveEvolv: A Step Toward Ending Gun Violence in Schools

Blog Post
Peter George
President & CEO

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School

Publish date

Sep 8, 2021

Today we announced the formation of GiveEvolv, a new charitable organization that provides need-based grants of Evolv Express weapons detection systems to K-12 schools in the United States that otherwise would be left vulnerable to gun violence. I would like to share the backstory of GiveEvolv and explain why it is so important to our mission. 

The threat of violence in schools is personal for me. My daughter is a second-grade teacher. Every tragic headline about an attack on a school sends my mind racing with "what if" scenarios that never fully fade from my mind. This issue haunts me as a dad, as a citizen, and as the CEO of a company focused on keeping weapons out of all the places where they are not welcome. 

For years I, like most of us, felt powerless to do anything to protect my daughter and all the other innocents who learn and work in schools. So it was incredibly satisfying when I joined Evolv and saw our Express weapons detection successfully deployed in a few South Carolina schools. However, that satisfaction also came with a tinge of frustration. Why? Because I knew that many vulnerable school districts wouldn't be able to afford our current Express product.  

We designed and priced Express with commercial facilities like stadiums, industrial workplaces, casinos, and tourist destinations in mind. We knew from our research that while some larger school districts would have the budget and the scale to use Express, many simply would not have the budget for our advanced technology. We don't regret making the tough call to focus on segments where we could reliably deliver win-win outcomes, but leaving most schools vulnerable has continued to weigh on all of us at Evolv. 

When we started getting inbound interest from SPAC partners early this year, one of our most important criteria was alignment with our mission of making the world a safe place to live, work, learn, and play. All the potential SPAC partners said the right things about their commitment to our mission. However, NewHold was unique in proposing that their partners dedicate a portion of their personal proceeds in the transaction toward charitable expansion of access to our technology. The fact that they were willing to put a portion of their personal income from the transaction on the table was inspiring, and our executive team decided to follow their example. The result is GiveEvolv. 

After we agreed on the core concept, we quickly settled on educational institutions as the initial beneficiary of GiveEvolv grants. We chose schools for two reasons. First, the threat is heartbreaking, and the impact is horrific. I’m not going to review all the incidents in this decade. Suffice it to say that since the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999, more than 256,000 students have been victims of gun violence during school hours. The second reason we chose education was that the resources to address the threat to schools are heartbreakingly scarce. Without help, we knew that advanced weapons detection technology would not come to many schools for years. 

Every school has policies prohibiting weapons on campus, but their ability to enforce their own policies is incredibly limited. Schools that can afford to install conventional walk-through metal detectors risk creating a prison-like environment that makes students feel like criminals. But more importantly, metal detector screening does just that. Detects metal.  It does not differentiate between a weapon and a laptop.   Not only does this provide a prison-like experience, but it slows students from getting into schools, creating security threats for those waiting in line.  And, worse yet, we've heard some security staff admit that when the morning bell is about to ring and the security line is backed up out the door, they just turn the metal detectors off and wave all the students in without any screening at all. Vulnerable students, teachers, and staff deserve much better.  

I've previously written about our vision for democratizing security. We intend to make high throughput weapons detection screening truly pervasive across all the places where people gather. GiveEvolv helps jumpstart our progress toward that vision. We won't be able to give Express grants to every vulnerable school immediately, but we do believe we can make a real impact for many vulnerable schools and then expand over time. 

I believe that parents and schools will be more willing and able to invest in weapons screening at schools once they see how effective and unobtrusive it can be. I also hope to bring down costs and simplify deployment of our products to the point that every school can enjoy the security and peace of mind that advanced weapons screening. I think we'll all sleep better when that day comes. 

We are still hammering out details of the GiveEvolv grant approval process. If you would like to nominate a school, you can sign up here.

Peter George
President & CEO

Peter G. George has been Evolv’s Chief Executive Officer and President since January 2020. Prior to assuming the role of Chief Executive Officer at Evolv, Mr. George served as Chief Commercial Officer of Evolv from February 2019 to December 2019. Prior to joining Evolv, Mr. George served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Fidelis Cybersecurity, a company focused on threat and data breach detection, from March 2008 to August 2019. Mr. George also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Empow Cybersecurity, a company offering intelligent, AI and natural language processing solutions to reduce false positives during threat detection, from March 2018 to November 2018. Mr. George serves on the Board of Directors of Corero Network Security PLC (LON: CNS), including its Compensation Committee, since January 2019. Mr. George received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the College of the Holy Cross in 1981.