Tag Archives: social good

Collaborating for Good Through Games: co.lab

12 Dec

There are a couple areas of social good that are becoming more and more intriguing these days: gamification and education. So when something launches that is a cross-section of the two, it’s exciting to share!

Recently such a new opportunity came up. I had the chance to talk with Zynga.org‘s executive director Ken Weber about a new joint venture between Zynga and New Schools Venture Fund: co.lab.

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The idea behind this incubator for startups involved with educational games is simple, yet ambitious. Zynga.org provides access to gaming best practices, Zynga staff, offices, tools and expertise, as well as playtests and feedback from both Zynga and schools (including students and educators). The startups provide their education technology products (apps and games), creative ideas, enthusiasm, and a burning desire to change the world for the better, just like the two supporting partners of the program.

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Zynga employee Nick leads students from San Francisco’s Balboa High School through a game design workshop. Creating excitement for STEM learning is part of the idea behind many of Zynga’s initiatives. Photo courtesy of Zynga.org

This new program was started just this fall. The application process for co.lab’s second cohort will open in early November. If chosen, co.lab provides for-profit or non-profit startups using technology products to help improve academic or social outcomes PK-12 with help in several keys areas of developing more effective ed tech products. These include developing learning game apps (content), measurement and evaluation tools (M&E), educational platforms that distribute games and apps (distribution) and/or other educational services that are looking to learn from best practices in commercial gaming to improve distribution, retention and engagement (gamification).

First-round cohorts include Kidaptive, LocoMotiveLabs, Motion Math, Pluto Media, and Edmodo. co.lab is a venture philanthropy initiative; the primary aim of co.lab is philanthropic: to generate a social, not financial, return.

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Ken Weber, Executive Director, Zynga.org; Mark Pincus, Founder of Zynga; Esteban Sosnik, Executive Director of co.lab; and Ted Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer of NewSchools Venture Fund. Photo taken at the co.lab opening; courtesy of Zynga.org.

The idea is, as Weber explains, “to harness the power of all the good gamers out there and channel it into solving education and social problems in fun, engaging ways.”

To this end, innovative products, ideas or prototypes that demonstrate significant promise for producing transformative effects on teaching, learning and/or education in general receive preference. Each approved startup will house a team at Zynga’s offices, receive up to a $50,000 stipend and benefit from the the knowledge and talent of one of the world’s largest online gaming companies. Zynga is investing $1 million into the first year alone.

NewSchools Venture Fund provides co.lab with operational oversight and guidance, coordinates partnerships and playtesting with educators and schools and includes co.lab companies in activities with a larger network of of edtech entrepreneurs.

Volunteers from the game industry, including Zynga employees, are also a key part of co.lab’s approach to sharing best practices and advice on product development, marketing and distribution and other related topics.

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Like many companies, Zynga combines creative online social good opportunities with in-person community events to raise overall engagement, as well as to give back both globally and locally. Photo of employees building a community garden courtesy of Zynga.org.

Internally, Zynga see its involvement in co.lab as a win/win opportunity. Not only does it inspire their own employees, who also are heavily involved with “offline” volunteering like community projects, but it also draws awareness and excitement to a huge burgeoning field online: gamification for education and social good. Additionally, it creates excitement around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs and how STEM skills can be used for a wide range of interesting passions.

Passions that even — or especially — can change the world.

If you would like to be notified when the application for the next co.lab cohort is open, contact info@playcolab.org.

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How To Accept Credit Card Donations for Your NonProfit

21 Sep

Whether you’re running a charity or a non-profit organization, it pays to give your contributors and backers as many options as possible to donate their hard-earned money toward your cause. While many companies accept credit card payments despite the fees attached to them, these companies are happy to take on the cost, because they provide their customers with the easiest way possible to spend their money. Online credit card processing is the most convenient method one can offer their supporters to make donations with their credit and debit cards through your website. Let’s look a little deeper and better understand what goes into accepting credit cards online.

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Capture the enthusiasm of donors who want to give right away with credit card payments. Photo courtesy of LyndaSanchez on Flickr.

Credit Card Processing Fees

With plenty of different options, it can be difficult for a charity or NPO to choose the best one for their needs. However, knowing the right option for your organization can have a substantial impact on the amount of each donation your organization keeps. Many charities have turned to PayPal for their credit card processing needs, largely due to it being one of the most recognizable names in merchant services. However, there may be other services available that can offer your organization better rates. If you’re running a charity, you want to find low rates to ensure a contributor’s donation goes to your cause.

Many companies have sprung up in an attempt to enhance the types of services PayPal offers, so there are plenty of options, even in areas we may not expect them. If your organization is already using Intuit software, for example, you can also accomplish credit card processing with QuickBooks. However, if you don’t use accounting software at the moment, options such as WePay also provide you with significantly reduced rates compared to the 4% PayPal typically charges per transaction. With PayPal, a $100 donation becomes $96 of useable spending money for your organization after fees. But with other services offering fees between 1 and 3%, you can quickly see how these fees add up and can detract from your received donation.

How it Works

Before you pick your merchant services provider and sign a contract, you need to fully understand how the process works. By acquiring a merchant services account, your organization will be able to decide just how long the donation process works. Merchant services allows an organization to create an online payment/donation gateway that will allow your supporters to provide their credit card information directly to your website. This is a perfect solution to increase donations if you’re already in the midst of a marketing campaign that is driving additional traffic to your site.

If your charity is in dire need of increased donations, the options your merchant services provider can offer are much more advantageous for you than you might think. Donations will be sent to a secure website that will then be passed along to your merchant services account. You will then be able to withdraw the money from your service provider, or have it wired to your organization’s bank account. As an additional bonus, some service providers will allow you to accept donations from a supporter’s bank account instead of their credit or debit card. What’s the bonus of this? Well, for the most part, merchant services providers charge a significantly smaller percentage when you receive a donation from a supporter’s bank account. These fees are usually around 1% of the total donation, meaning your organization is truly gifted with nearly the entire donation made.

In the end, your goal should be to make it as simple as possible for anyone to donate to your organization. If you’ve ever tried to donate to another charity, or have even attempted to make an online purchase, only to have your experience end in immense frustration, you know how dire it is for your organization to be fully-functional. Don’t allow one more donation to pass you by; do the necessary research and find the right merchant services provider to allow your charity receive as many donations as possible.

This is a guest post by Bradley Derringer, a blogger for TechBreach, giving you the latest on all things tech. 

How #Volunteering Can Help You Stand Out from the Crowd

1 Jul
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
~ Booker T. Washington
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This is a contribution by How2Become

When you’re desperately looking for that next job, working for free may not seem like the next best thing at all. But, volunteering can seriously help you to stand out from other applicants and can help you to get that next interview.

Show that you are a proactive person

Volunteering for three months looks a lot better on a resume than a long gap between jobs. It shows that you have kept your brain active, that you have been determined to improve the lives of others and that you were not content to sit at home and order a pizza.

It’s not all about money

It shows a great level of dedication and loyalty to stick at a volunteering post for a few months without being paid. Volunteering demonstrates that there is more to your motivation than just money. Employers will like this as they will see you as a person who wants to do their job well for the sake of fulfilling your own personal goals rather than it being all about the money. Somebody who really wants a job for reasons other than financial ones will be much more appealing to employers.

Learn key skills

Many volunteering posts require many of the same skills as a paid professional job. For example, fundraising for a charity requires good sales and negotiation skills in order to get people to donate. Similarly, working with children with learning difficulties or teaching English as a foreign language require excellent communication skills.

Network with influential people

Many larger charities have paid jobs higher up. Whilst volunteering you may get to meet people who have the power to hire and fire employees in these positions. After a few months of volunteering for a larger charitable organisation you may even be offered a permanent paid position. You will be amazed at the variety of different people who volunteer. Even if they themselves are between jobs or out of work, they may have friends and relatives in the industries in which you wish to apply for jobs. It never hurts to get talking to people with contacts.

Gain Work Experience

There are a huge number of volunteering opportunities out there. You are bound to find something relevant to the career you want to pursue. If you want to go into marketing then why not help a charity to design posters for free? If you’re looking at events management then ask if you can help to organise a charity dinner or a fundraising event. You can tailor the type of volunteering you do to perfectly demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to enter your desired field. These kinds of opportunities would not be given to you in a paid job until you climbed quite high up the ladder in a larger corporation, so volunteering can give the perfect platform to prove you have what it takes.

Get further, faster

Since volunteers don’t get paid, there are few people who can afford to stick at it for a considerable length of time. If you manage to stay for a few months, you may see yourself become one of the more senior and experienced volunteers. You may even get your own team to lead; an opportunity which you wouldn’t be given for years in the corporate world. Relish the opportunities and make the most of them. Managerial experience will look amazing on your resume and will show that other people have had faith in you to perform to a very high standard in the past.

Richard McMunn is a writer for  How2Become, a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centres in order to secure their dream job. 

Social Good Stars: Global Philanthropy Group’s (@GlobalPhilGrp) Maggie Neilson

27 Apr

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Good Marketing and Branding Consultant

Social Good Stars: Global Philanthropy Group’s Maggie Neilson

Posted: 04/26/2012 12:21 pm

This is the seventh installment of the Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world. You can read the seventh interview with Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast, here.

“The world is more malleable than you think and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape.” ~ Bono

When it comes to world-shaping, Maggie Neilson, Partner and CEO at Global Philanthropy Group, has tremendous insight. With a background including working with some of the world’s best-know philanthropies and brands with Social Good vision, she has first-hand experience with helping to shape and develop impactful projects globally. Many of her clients are celebrities with a wide reach and equally big passion to help. Additionally, Maggie was on the United Nations‘ International Year of Microcredit Leadership Team, Synergos Insitute‘s international development programs around child malnutrition in India, sustainable global food programs and health programs in Africa, and has been a featured speaker at Harvard and Columbia on microfinance. She weaves her love of helping into every aspect of her life and her work, and shares some of her wisdom below.

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Photo courtesy of Global Philanthropy Group

You and your partner Trevor Neilson have worked with many well-known philanthropists, such as Bill Gates, Bono, Sir Richard Branson, President Bill Clinton, Rachael Ray, and numerous others. Are there strategies they share that individuals and organizations can also use?

Yes. Each of these individuals — as well as the corporations we work with — effectively leverages their unique strengths and passions. Bill Gates’ analytical approach and focus on measurable outcomes is unparalleled. Sir Branson deploys Virgin’s marketing genius to help launch new philanthropists. President’ Clinton uses his global network to build high powered coalitions. Rachael’s cooking expertise and approachability enable her to uniquely help people improve their eating. Every person can use what they have to make a change. Just look at what you care about, what you have and who you know. Some of the best philanthropic efforts I’ve seen in recent years have been by kids using what they have.

With your long track record of successful international projects, what changes have you seen in the global landscape because of things like social media and instant access to information?

Social media and information access have been an incredibly powerful tools in philanthropic work. Whether it is a rural farmer receiving crop price data via mobile phone or millions of young people learning quickly about African child soldiers from the Kony 2012 campaign, we see things that were not imaginable a decade ago. However, as with all tools, there is a downside. Pimps and johns can reach sex slaves within a click or two. I heard a john once say that he could order a girl as fast as a pizza. That’s sobering to say the least.

Based on trends you see now, are there new ways you envision individuals and causes interacting a few years from now?

Yes. Technology advances and the challenging economic environment are going to simultaneously result in more informed donors due to better information services and reporting as well as more effective, outcomes-oriented nonprofit organizations. In some cases, this will be due to mergers and acquisitions among duplicative organizations.

Having worked with the United Nations on microfinance/microcredit projects, what role do you see microfinance playing globally now, with the growth of smartphones, apps, text-based fundraising, etc.? What are your thoughts on microdonations becoming a bigger piece of fundraising internationally?

The current state of microfinance is transitional. Whether it achieves its potential will largely be determined by three issues; How can we protect already vulnerable people from abuses by unsavory microfinance practitioners? How can we scale up the provision of microfinance services like savings and insurance which help protect against the natural life events that often lead to extreme poverty? And how can we continue to unleash more commercial capital for microfinance use by low income customers?

I am very excited about the potential of microdonations. If, as I mentioned, we can improve the quantity, quality and usability of data available to donors, this could create a sizable, nimble funding stream.

Can you highlight a couple good examples of kids being involved in causes? What are some resources you’d suggest to parents who want to help their kids get involved and develop a passion for helping others?

This is one of my personal passions. We are in a time of great change in terms of who does what between the government, non-profit and corporate sectors. Everyone – including every person of every age – has the opportunity to be involved in philanthropy. Two good resources are Clover by Clover and Acme Sharing Company. Also organizations like Baby Buggy let parents give back in a way that is easy and makes a difference.

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Maggie Neilson, Partner and CEO, Global Philanthropy Group. Photo courtesy of Maggie Neilson.

Learn more about Maggie and Global Philanthropy Group’s work on Facebook, Twitter @mrneilson, and LinkedIn.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Social Good Stars: @Causecast CEO Ryan Scott on the Future of Cause Marketing #nptech

29 Mar
This article originally appears on The Huffington Post.
Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Media Consultant

Social Good Stars: Causecast CEO Ryan Scott on the Future of Cause Marketing

This is the seventh installment of the Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world. You can read the sixth interview with Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark here.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast, is a visionary idealist with a plan. He is a successful entrepreneur and thinker; a humanist and a philanthropist; and an investor and adviser to many interesting companies and charities. Also, he co-founded two of my favorite sections of the Huffington Post: Impact, and Education. His passion for doing the right thing — like not charging nonprofits a cent to use Causecast’s platform to help their cause — has helped spur global growth in cause marketing and its effectiveness. As a leader in the cause marketing field, he has some inspiring and thought-provoking insights into the future of Social Good.

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Photo courtesy of Causecast.com.You are widely regarded as the “Father of Opt-In Email Marketing.” You gave people an additional voice and freedom (to opt-in, or not) before people even asked. How did that affect your charity vision?

Opt-in was the result of my sense of social justice. We have the technology to ask people to subscribe rather than spam them and force them to opt-out – or in the case of the postal world, just spam them without regard for whether or not they want to get off the list. We have the technology for mass customization so what is the excuse for not using it? We can do direct marketing in an ethical way on the internet, and in fact we have to, so let’s do it.

My charity vision comes from that same sense of social justice. We ask nonprofits to solve the world’s toughest problems with a challenging business model. As a society, we reward selling sugar water far more than we reward building wells. This perverse incentive does nothing to solve the issue of lack of clean water, but it creates the altogether new problem of obesity. Clearly this is not sustainable. Capitalism can and must be better leveraged to help nonprofits do their work. It’s just too powerful of a force to ignore. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to harness the power of capitalism and by vastly improving this mutually beneficial partnership we will start to actually solve the world’s most pressing problems.
As a proponent of environmentalism and social justice, what social media platforms have jumped out at you as far as helping there?

The major social networks and publishing platforms can have a huge impact on social awareness and change. I can’t point to just one — as a marketer you have to use them all for their strengths. Unfortunately this is not one of those questions that has an easy solution.

You are active with many organizations, including Keiretsu Forum, the President’s Council of Planned Parenthood, the Long Now Foundation, and the Methuselah Foundation, among others. Are there trends you’ve seen online that have helped with expanding these causes?

Developments in the online world have increased the capacity of nonprofits and opened up new possibilities. For example, at Causecast we introduced free donation processing, which makes giving far less costly, and the ability for nonprofits to participate in workplace giving programs of corporations, also for free. But there are also pitfalls to online cause innovations. There is so much noise online, and it can be easy to create an app that is too difficult for NPOs to follow. Worse, I’ve seen some cause marketing campaigns where the brands are getting much more value than the nonprofit partners. I’ve seen many smaller nonprofits spend valuable time promoting a brand but competing against far more popular nonprofits, giving them no hope of winning. The time spent promoting the brand would have been better spent honing their core fundraising skills. Luckily there a lot of exceptions to this, for example Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program in which all participating organizations walk away with something for their time, and organizations are paired with other organizations of similar size, making it more fair.
What other trends do you think nonprofits can leverage right now to help advance their message?

Workplace giving and volunteer programs are becoming a critical aspect of employee engagement, which is an essential key to employee recruitment and retention. Traditional corporate philanthropy only goes so far — companies need to get their entire workforce involved in order to make a difference, and nonprofits should make sure that they’re exposed to employee-based streams of fundraising and volunteerism. When employees get involved with nonprofits as a part of workplace programs, everyone benefits — nonprofits, the engaged employees and corporate bottom lines. That’s why Causecast developed a technology platform to help nonprofits connect with business workforces.


Social good marketing gets a lot of positive coverage these days. Do you feel it’s a win/win for brands and nonprofits? How do consumers/donors benefit from these social good partnerships?

It’s always a good thing when the private sector supports the public sector, no matter what the reasons. But cause marketing can feel like just that — marketing — if it’s not backed up by authentic engagement by the employees of the company.
Where do you see “Social Good/Cause Marketing” heading in the next two years?

Cause marketing is clearly the future of marketing. In fact, when you see that 90% of consumers will switch brands to one that supports a cause, you quickly realize that all marketing will be cause marketing. Despite some attempts at causewashing, it’s here to stay.

As you can tell, I’m really excited about employee cause engagement or workplace giving and volunteering. In fact, I predict all cause marketing campaigns will ultimately be launched to the public from within the workplace, by the employees of the corporation, not solely from the marketing department. Because what, after all, is the heart and soul of a company? Its staff. If they pick the nonprofits the company should support, if they are involved in crafting and promoting the campaign, it’s as authentic as it can be.

Soon, and this is our most active area of development, we’ll see companies competing with each other to make the most positive social change. I can’t think of a better reason to be hopeful for the future than that.

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Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast.Learn more about Ryan Scott on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter @ryan_scott.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

15 Positive Sites to Make You Smile

25 Feb
This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.
Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Media Consultant

15 Uplifting Sites Focused on Positive Stories and Ideas for Good

Posted: 02/25/2012 11:06 am

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. ~ James M. Barrie

There is no shortage of news these days, every place we turn. Much of it is less-than-positive. Looking for something different? A little more thoughtful, light-hearted, happy, fun, and inspirational? Here are a few great choices.

All of these sites focus on uplifting and creative news stories, ideas, and information. Check them out to bring a little sunshine into your day.

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is the memoir of a year spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Daily adventures in pursuit of happiness.

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The Huffington Post: Good News

Daily Good news. Positive, uplifting, inspiring stories from the Huffington Post.
Happy news that shows the good in the world around us.

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Zen Habits

Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.
It also happens to be one of the Top 50 websites in the world and is uncopyrighted.

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Tiny Buddha

Tiny Buddha is about reflecting on simple wisdom and learning new ways to apply it to our complex lives-complete with responsibilities, struggles, dreams, and relationships. A leading resource for peace and happiness.


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Happy News

Real news. Compelling Stories. Always positive.


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Optimist World

Daily good news headlines, inspiring stories about charities, positive corporate social responsibility activities, sustainable travel, optimistic stories from the world of sports, and more.

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TED

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

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1000 Awesome Things

“1000 Awesome Things might be described as optimism for the rest of us. Sunny without being saccharine, it’s a countdown of life’s little joys that reads like a snappy Jerry Seinfeld monologue by way of Maria Von Trapp.” – The Vancouver Sun

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Good News Network

A “Daily Dose of News to Enthuse.” Stories confirm what we already believe: good news itself is not in short supply; the advertising of it is.

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Gimundo

Good news… Served daily.

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GOOD

GOOD is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward. Since 2006 we’ve been making a magazine, videos, and events for people who give a damn.

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USAToday Kindness

Kindness is your daily source of inspiration and guide to making a difference in fresh and exciting ways, no matter where you are. Exclusive interviews, fresh takes on news stories, plenty of tips, and links to interesting resources.

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Gives Me Hope

People sharing uplifting stories. “Life is beautiful today!”

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Ode Wire

Around the clock and around the world, OdeWire is always looking at the most authoritative news sources for stories that focus on solutions rather than problems, and on positive changes rather than negative ones.


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Daily Good

Receive a news story, an inspiring quote, and a suggested action each day that every person can use to make a difference in their own lives and the world around them.


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Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her CharityIdeasBlog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

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