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With George Floyd in mind, Bible co-editors created
the Breath
e Life Bible

After the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white police officer,
the co-editors of the new Bible say they felt compelled to do something

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Protesters rally outside Minneapolis' 3rd Precinct on April 19, 2021, as the murder trial against former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd advanced to jury deliberations. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

February 13, 2024

By Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) — Michele Clark Jenkins and Stephanie Perry Moore have known each other for almost three decades and have worked together on two specialty editions of the Bible. But more than friends and colleagues, they say, they hold each other spiritually accountable.

After the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in 2020 by a white Minneapolis police officer, the duo say they felt compelled to do something new that combined their faith and their desire to advance racial and social justice.

The result is The Breathe Life Bible, the title echoing Floyd’s repeated insistence “I can’t breathe” as he was restrained with the officer’s knee on his neck.

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Cover of The Breathe Life Bible.

(Courtesy image)

The tome, set for release Tuesday (Feb. 13), introduces each biblical book with a “Breathe It In” segment and features “#Oxygen” tidbits that point to what they consider promises in the scriptural verses. The Bible includes devotions written by Christian leaders, including the Rev. Bernice A. King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and CEO of the Atlanta peacemaking center named for him; NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson; and Thelma T. Daley, president of the National Council of Negro Women.

Each of these contributors expands on different imperatives summed up in the acronym BREATHE: believe, reconcile, exalt, act, trust, hope, elevate.

“You can be a part of groups that are doing things for change,” said Moore, 54, in a joint interview with Clark Jenkins. “You can also have an inward and a personal relationship with God for him to guide you on your own heart and mind on what you should do.”

Clark Jenkins, 69, wrote 49 “We Speak” segments that give brief first-person introductions to Bible characters and short interpretations of their role.
“It has been taught that the curse of Ham is on Black people and that’s why we were enslaved,” she said in the interview. “And that’s why we are on the lower rung of society and why we’ve been oppressed all these years. And that’s just incorrect. And so we wanted to make sure that when I’m talking about who people are, that we dispel rumors.”
They talked to Religion News Service about their reaction to Floyd’s killing and their hopes for their new Bible.

The interview was edited for length and clarity.
Why did you decide to co-edit The Breathe Life Bible and why now?

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Michele Clark Jenkins, left, and Stephanie Perry Moore.

(Courtesy photo)

Clark Jenkins: The summer that George Floyd was assassinated was a very contemplative time, and so Stephanie and I started talking, and really the question before us was: There’s so much happening, there’s injustice, we’re feeling oppressed. What are we supposed to do as Christians? Are we supposed to go into our prayer closets and not come out? Throw Molotov cocktails through Macy’s window? That’s what caused us to want to do this project, to talk about how we as faithful people are supposed to respond, no matter what’s thrown at us.

Stephanie, you wrote in the acknowledgments that this Bible is “a road map of how we can allow the Father to lift the weight of this world off the oppressed.” How do you think a Bible might do that?

Moore: When you think about faith in action, there’s no other way to walk with the Lord than to have the Bible, every piece of it — your favorite scripture, what your pastor might say from the pulpit in taking a passage from the Word. It’s a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Michele, there are sidebars labeled “Inhale” and “Exhale” and verses that you label “Oxygen.” Are you hoping that this Bible will be a tool for physical as well as spiritual exercises?

MCJ: The stresses of life affect us spiritually, mentally and physically. And so, to that extent, yeah, we want the burdens of your life to be lifted, we want people to have joy. We want people to be able to breathe. We wanted people to have guidance and to feel comfortable with how they were taking action in their life because it was biblically based.

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An individual reads The Breathe Life Bible.

(Courtesy photo)

The King James Version has long been a favorite translation for African Americans.

Is that why you choose to use the New King James Version for this Bible?

SPM: You’re right on. We’ve got about 30 different contributors. We have some women, some men, pastors, presidents of (seminaries), gospel singers, rocket scientist. But when we polled a lot of them, the New King James Version of the Bible was one that was always pretty much on the top.

You contrast this Bible with the Slave Bible, the 19th-century American edition that omitted passages about freedom and God’s delivery of the oppressed. Does your Bible pay special attention to those very passages?

MCJ: Not purposely. Places that we really highlighted were those that really talk about how we demonstrate our faith through our actions. So it focuses on when the Bible talks about fighting injustice and oppression and our responsibility to do that.

George Floyd comes up a number of times in the commentary. Are you seeking to reach those who have been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement or the protests that followed his death?

SPM: Personally, it affected me. And that was one of the reasons why I was called, with Michele, to figure out what we could do. If not us, then who? To be able to work together with folks who were hurting, to be able to change that with other people that are stakeholders and faith leaders. To be able to put together a comprehensive piece that hopefully could be hope in the midst of a lot of pain.

MCJ: This Bible is geared towards anybody, by the way. Although we write it from an African American perspective, it’s not just for African Americans. It’s for anybody who wants to put their faith in action. We know that faith without works is dead. Now that you have faith, the question is, what do you do with your life? How do you live your life? How do you go through your life, the good, the bad, and the ugly? And so this is for anybody who struggles with those questions.

Source: https://religionnews.com/2024/02/13/with-george-floyd-in-mind-bible-co-editors-created-breathe-life-bible/

African Methodist Episcopal Church calls for end

to all US aid to Israel

Leaders of the historic denomination called Israel’s military campaign in Gaza ‘mass genocide’

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President Joe Biden during a campaign event at Mother Emanuel AME Church on Jan. 8, 2024 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

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By Camillo Barone

February 16, 2024

Describing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza as a “mass genocide,” leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the nation’s oldest predominantly Black denomination, have called for the U.S. to halt “all funding and other support” for the Jewish state.

The statement came from the church’s Council of Bishops Thursday as the Israeli army continued to move into Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where 1.6 million Palestinians are sheltering.

Israel has “denied them access to food, water, shelter, and health care. After this torture, they plan to murder them,” the statement reads.

Several major American Christian churches and the National Council of Churches have come out in support a ceasefire in Gaza. Some have called for the U.S. to end military aid to Israel, as opposed to the AME’s call for the U.S. to end all its support for the Jewish state.
Israel has said its purpose in Gaza is to wipe out Hamas before it can make good on its stated intention to repeat attacking Israel until it is destroyed, and to free the hostages the militant group took on Oct. 7. It blames Hamas, which rules Gaza, for the high Palestinian death toll, pointing to its strategy of hiding militants and weapons among civilians.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, Israel has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in its four-month military campaign. The terror group killed about 1,200 people and took 240 hostage in its Oct. 7 attack. The bishops refer to Hamas’ killings in Israel as “brutal murder.”
“The cycle of violence between historically wounded peoples will not be dissolved by the creation of more wounds or through weapons of war,” the statement continued. “We remain in solidarity with Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a Palestinian Jew, and the Prince of Peace.”
The bishops noted that they issued their statement on the birthday of  Richard Allen, an enslaved person who bought his freedom and founded the AME Church in the late 18th century.

Urban Missiology: Urban Cafe-Elonda Clay

LIBERATION AFTER AI?
THE RISE OF AI AND THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

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Topic: Urban Missiology: Urban Cafe-Elonda Clay
Time: Feb 10, 2024 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting:
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Meeting ID: 561 595 6303
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Note to Readers: Imam Michael Saahir is an Urban Missiology board member who is actively involved in the city of Indianapolis.

Israel and Palestine – Do Imams and Rabbis cry?

Friday, January 26, 2024

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By MICHAEL SAAHIR

Reprint from the Indianapolis Recorder,

Friday, January 26, 2024

“It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is forbidden to be passed.” (Qur’an, chapter 25: verse 53)

The Qur’an mentions two bodies of water that meet but never integrate; one water-body is sweet and palatable and the other body of water is bitter salt-water. Tears of joy and laughter are not bitter to our taste buds, but tears of sadness and pain tend to be salty, you ever wonder why salty tears accompany difficulties?

The Israeli-Gazan difficulties – more accurately “the Zionist-Hamas” difficulties – have resulted in much of the whole world shedding bitter and salty tears. I wonder if the tears of imams, rabbis and other world religious leaders, if they too are shedding tears? Not just tears for the suffering adherents of their respective faiths, but for the sufferings of people who practice or believe a different faith.

Do imams cry salty bitter tears when they hear of a Jewish baby being murdered or kidnapped by terrorist? Do rabbis cry acrid tears when bombs kill innocent Palestinian babies by the hour? Or do we only cry and protest for the innocent baby whose parents worship and pray as we do? Are faith leaders allowed to be that selfish? Of course not!

Where in the Qur’an or in the Hadith1 is there an inkling of support for imams to remain quiet while innocent Jews are being slaughtered? Likewise, where is there even a whisper of support in the Talmud or the Torah for rabbis to remain quiet while innocent Palestinians are being slaughtered? How can we claim to be leaders and lovers of peace, i.e. Salaam and Shalom, but our inaction to speak out against violence to others betrays the very idea of universal peace; that transcending peace without borders?

If an imam can’t shed tears for the human being, G_d’s creation, whose parents just so happens to be Jewish, can that imam be called to account for his insensitivity towards that human being? If a rabbi can’t shed a tear for the human being, again, G_d’s creation, whose parents just so happens to be Palestinian, can that rabbi be called to account for their insensitivity towards the life of that human being? As imams and rabbis, often we are emulated by our members of our faith traditions. We are models that set the tone for our communities’ conduct. If we publicly shed a tear for others of a different faith, hopefully, our membership will do likewise.

Tears are not prejudice; however, sometimes our motive behind our tears may not be as innocent as we would like to believe. If our tears are reserved for only “my people” or for “my nation,” then the motive behind such tears are often weaponized or politicized to garner self-pity. Such tears are not for humanity. Are the tears of imams reserved only for Muslims and not for humanity? Are rabbi’s tears reserved only for Israel? Would the Prophets Muhammed and Moses, peace be upon them, cry tears only for abused and murdered babies of their particular faiths? No!

Our Creator is not the exclusive Lord of Israel and not also the Lord of all people. Allah is not just the G_d for Muslims. Allah is the Lord of all the worlds. The salt content of Muslim tears are no different than the salt content of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh – or any person of faith – tears of pain.

Where are the tears of joy that we exchange during our “cookies and punch” interfaith gatherings; the laughter and hugs that accompany firm handshakes of brotherhood and peace? What good are these meetings of multi-faith unity if such gatherings can’t produce a sincere tear for the innocent loss of lives of those who are not of your particular,  individual faith? Interfaith/multi-faith vitality becomes impotent if not maximized during difficult times.

Physical tears of joy, often, are not bitter. The same is true for mental tears of joy that accompany clear understandings, and our spiritual tears that flow when our souls find solace in the sacred words of G_d. The Qur’an promises that these two bodies of water, albeit adjacent, are bodies of water that never mix or integrate together. We can’t cry one bitter tear simultaneously with a palatable tear of joy. In other words, an imam can’t cry salty tears only when the victims are Palestinian, but cry tears of joy when the victim is Jewish. Likewise a rabbi can’t cry tears of joy when the victims are Palestinians and then expect the world to cry with them when the innocent victim is Jewish.

We need our religious leadership – from all faith traditions – to return to their respective holy text and relearn to cry tears that benefit humanity – the whole of humanity, not just for a select few who look and pray like you! Salty tears are bitter because they flow when the bitterness of life dominates our minds and souls. Bitter tears we can overcome when we take moral stands that produce sweet palatable tears of universal joy that we shed together as one!

  1. Islamic reports on the life of Prophet Muhammed, prayers and peace be upon him.

Note: Happy New Year! It seems wise to listen to wisdom as we begin a new year. Marc and Angel Chernoff are New York Times bestselling authors, professional coaches, full-time students of life, admirers of the human spirit, and have been recognized by Forbes as having “one of the most popular personal development blogs.” 

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGwJRwqHWMpJDBmFMdVJRKXzbCL (12/24/23)

40 Quotes for Letting Go and Coping with What You Can’t Control Today

WRITTEN by ANGEL CHERNOFF // 10 COMMENTS

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The goal every day for the rest of the year (and beyond) is to gradually grow stronger on the inside so that less and less on the outside can affect your inner wellness without your conscious permission.

Truth be told, how you cope with unexpected stress and frustration can easily be the difference between living a good life and living an unhealthy one. If you choose unhealthy coping mechanisms like avoidance or denial, for example, you can quickly turn a tough situation into a tragic one. And sadly, this is a common mistake many people make.

When you find yourself facing a disheartening reality, your first reaction might be to deny the situation, or to avoid dealing with it altogether. But by doing so you’re inadvertently holding on even tighter to the pain that you wish to let go of — you’re, in effect, sealing it up inside you.

Let’s imagine someone close to you has grown ill, and supporting this person through his or her illness is incredibly painful. You might not want to deal with the pain, so you cope by avoiding it, by finding ways to numb yourself with alcohol and unhealthy eating. And consequently, you grow physically ill too while the pain continues to fester inside you.

Obviously that’s not good.

If you notice yourself doing something similar, it’s time to pause, admit to yourself that you’re coping by avoiding, and then shift your focus to a healthier coping mechanism, like using the quotes listed later in this post (several of which are excerpts from our books) to help you open your mind.

When you face struggles with an attitude of openness — open to the painful feelings and emotions you have — you find out that it’s not comfortable, but you can still be fine and you can still step forward. Openness means you don’t instantly decide that you know this is only going to be a horrible experience — it means you admit that you don’t really know what the next step will be like, and you’d like to understand the whole truth of the matter. It’s a learning stance, instead of one that assumes the worst.

The General Benefits of Healthy Coping

Coping certainly isn’t an easy practice, and I’m not suggesting that it is. What I am suggesting is that it’s worth your while. With practice, healthy coping allows you to find better ways of managing life’s continuous stream of unexpected and uncontrollable circumstances. For example…

  1. A task is harder than you expected it to be — Instead of running from a daunting and overwhelming task, you can accept it and see what it’s like to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed, and still take action anyway. Writing a book, for example, is daunting and overwhelming, but you can still write one even with those feelings rolling through you (just like Marc and I did with our books).

  2. An interaction with someone you love angers or frustrates you — Instead of lashing out at a loved one when you’re upset with them, you can sit quietly with your difficult feelings and just be open to what it’s like to feel them. And then, once you’ve had a moment to breathe, you can see what it’s like to deal compassionately with someone you love who you’re also upset with. To try to understand them instead of just judging them at their worst.

  3. Unhealthy cravings overwhelm you out of nowhere — You may be inclined to indulge in unhealthy cravings like alcohol and sweets for comfort when you’re feeling stressed out. But you can sit with these feelings and be open to them instead, and then gradually build positive daily rituals for coping in healthier ways—taking walks, meditating, talking with someone about your feelings, journaling, reviewing the relevant quotes from our book provided in this post, etc.

  4. You are forced to deal with a loved one’s death — When someone you love passes away, the grief and sense of loss can seem overwhelming. And at that point, it’s incredibly easy to give in to unhealthy, “quick-fix” ways of alleviating the pain. But you have to force yourself to do the opposite—to give yourself compassion, to sit with the powerfully difficult thoughts and feelings you have, and to open your mind to what lies ahead. Gradually it becomes evident that death isn’t just an ending, but also a beginning. Because while you have lost someone special, this ending, like all losses, is a moment of reinvention. Although deeply sad, their passing forces you to reinvent your life, and in this reinvention is an opportunity to experience beauty in new, unseen ways and places.

And of course, we’ve merely just scratched the surface of an endless pool of possibilities for healthy coping. The key thing to understand is that by learning to cope in healthier ways, you will find that you can better handle anything life throws your way, and come out stronger, and oftentimes even happier, than you were before.

In the end, the world is as you are inside. What you think, you see, and you ultimately become. So gather and choose your thoughts wisely — think how you want to live today. And use these quotes to guide you:

Quotes for Letting Go and Healthy Coping

In moments of unexpected stress and frustration, an uplifting reminder can make all the difference in your mindset. And that’s exactly why I’m sharing the quotes below with you today. Together they collectively serve as a healthy coping mechanism for life’s inevitable disappointments. And understanding how to cope in a healthy way, as we’ve discussed, is an invaluable skill.

Truth be told, Marc and I personally reference these quotes on a regular basis to bring perspective, shift our mindset, and cope with the unexpected troubles we can’t control. And although this practice is indeed a personal one, it’s also been vetted by its extensive use in hundreds of successful one-on-one (and two-on-one) coaching sessions that Marc and I have administered with our course students, live event attendees, and coaching clients over the years. Perhaps they can help you too…

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…and I dare you to dance today, through the holidays, and into the New Year! ���​​

But before you go, please share this post with others who you think will benefit from it, and also share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. Which quote above resonated the most today? Or perhaps share an additional quote or personal saying that has helped you let go and cope more effectively with the things you can’t control.

Note:  We are appreciative to UM board member Rev. Dr. Wanda Lundy for sharing this poem with us from Sojourners.

PRAYER FOR PEACE IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

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BY ROSE MARIE BERGER

OCT 9, 2023

Source: https://sojo.net/articles/prayer-peace-israel-and-palestine

  

“They will not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain...” —Isaiah 11:9

God of Comfort,
send your Spirit to encompass all those whose lives
are torn apart by violence and death in Israel and Palestine.
You are the Advocate of the oppressed
and the One whose eye is on the sparrow.
Let arms reach out in healing, rather than aggression.
Let hearts mourn rather than militarize.

God of Justice,
give strength to those whose long work for a just peace
might seem fruitless now. Strengthen their resolve.
Do not let them feel alone. Show us how to support their work
and bolster their courage. Guide religious leaders to model
unity and reconciliation across lines of division.
Guide political leaders to listen with their hearts as they seek peace and pursue it.
Help all people choose the rigorous path of just peace and disavow violence.

God of Love,
we lift up Palestine and Israel — its people, its land, its creatures.
War is a monster that consumes everything in its path.
Peace is a gift shared at meals of memory with Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
Let us burn incense, not children. Let us break bread, not bodies.
Let us plant olive groves, not cemeteries.
We beg for love and compassion to prevail
on all your holy mountains.

God of Hope,
we lift up the cities of the region: Gaza City and Tel Aviv,
Ramallah and Ashkelon, Deir El Balah and Sderot,
so long divided, yet so filled with life and creativity.
Come again to breathe peace on your peoples
that all may recognize you.

God of Mercy,
even now work on the hearts of combatants
to choose life over death, reconciliation over retaliation,
restoration over destruction. Help us resist antisemitism in all its forms,
especially in our own churches. All people, Israelis and Palestinians,
deserve to live in peace and unafraid, with a right to determine
their future together.

God of the Nations,
let not one more child or elder be sacrificed on altars of political expediency.
Keep safe all people from unjust leaders who would exploit
vulnerability for their own distorted ends.
Give wise discernment to those making decisions to pursue peace.
Provide them insight into fostering well-being, freedom, and thriving for all.
Teach all of us to resolve injustices with righteousness, not rockets.
Guard our hearts against retaliation, and give us hearts for love alone.

Strengthen our faith in you, O God of All Flesh,
even when we don’t have clear answers,
so that we may still offer ourselves nonviolently
for the cause of peace.

Amen.

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Rose Marie Berger

Rose Marie Berger, author of Bending the Arch: Poems, is a senior editor of Sojourners 

Empowering Futures: MENTOR$CHIP

I’m Dr. Micah McCrary-Dennis, Founder and CEO of MentorSchip, Inc. Born and raised in Atlanta, Ga, I found my passion for engineering at a young age as I was always tinkering, dismantling and repairing anything I could find. Following my passion and my love of music, I attended Flordia Agricultural & Mechanical University to double major in Industrial Engineering, and French Language and March in the Band. But my journey was not as straightforward and definitely had its challenges. After more than a decade of college and 3 degrees, I graduated from FAMU at the top of my classes but felt like I was starting off real life at the bottom. Having
the weight of debt looming over me every month after the deferment period ended was an incredible burden. After a bit of research, I found out that students primarily form underprivileged backgrounds like mine were the most affected by this inequity of an indebted education. So I decided to shift the paradigm and use my engineering acumen to create a solution for the debt crisis gravely affecting students everywhere. I want to positively impact students, mentors, and communities in a worthwhile and engaging scholarship process as early as 10 years old; thereby availing them of the future burden of debt.

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Empowering Futures: MENTOR$CHIP- Fund My College App

Mentor$chip is a revolutionary platform at the forefront of mentorship and scholarship, transforming the educational landscape for aspiring students. Our vision is to bridge the gap between dreams and realities, fostering a community where mentorship, scholarships, and educational resources converge.

The mission of Mentor$chip is rooted in providing equitable access, awareness and application to funded opportunities. Driven by the founder's personal journey, the platform aims to empower individuals who face financial barriers and lack mentorship opportunities. The vital programmatic components include advertising opportunities, facilitating mentorship connections, creating crowdfunding campaigns for scholarships, and supporting educators in fundraising for classroom resources.

In 2004, the U.S. student loan deficit was $400 billion. Going into 2024, it has skyrocketed to $1.78 trillion. Dr. Micah McCrary-Dennis, the visionary behind Mentor$chip, experienced firsthand the financial challenges of transitioning from high school to college. Faced with over $500,000 in potential college costs, Dr. Micah's journey took an unexpected turn when a last-minute accreditation change to his engineering curriculum forced an additional year of studies to complete his undergraduate degree. The silver lining allowed him to pursue a second bachelor's degree in French Language but also forced him to resort to student loans in order to graduate. Carrying the burden of student loan debt through graduate school, this personal challenge highlighted the flaws in the education system, reinforcing Mentor$chip's commitment to making education accessible and empowering individuals to overcome obstacles.

Mentor$chip operates on scholarship, by connecting students with experienced mentors to better guide institutional decisions and career choices. Additionally, the platform is designed to encourage students to apply for dozens of scholarships and complete each process all the way through submission. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Image Recognition (IR) technologies play a pivotal role in increasing awareness, access, and discoverability of scholarship opportunities. Through these immersive technologies, Mentor$chip creates a dynamic virtual environment where users can explore, connect, and engage with scholarship campaigns and mentorship resources.

In conclusion, Mentor$chip stands as a beacon of hope, addressing the pressing challenges in education. Through visionary leadership, innovative technologies, and a commitment to empowering individuals, Mentor$chip is shaping a future where education is accessible to all, breaking down barriers, and fostering success.

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