News

Crimsonbridge Founder, Gabriela Smith, Recognized in Washington Life’s Philanthropic 50

July 2020

Each year, Washington Life Magazine recognizes the philanthropists and philanthropic foundations that are making an exemplary difference in the Greater Washington region. This year, Crimsonbridge Foundation Founder & President Gabriela Smith, was recognized for her innovative approach to philanthropy through the work of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

We are happy to share with you the full interview below.

Education, Gabriela Smith believes, is the pathway toward racial and economic justice. Smith created the Crimsonbridge Foundation to focus on education, leadership development, and non-profit capacity building, with a particular lens towards serving the Hispanic community in a tribute to Smith’s own formation and heritage.

“It was thanks to scholarships that I was able to advance my education,” she says. Hispanics are expected to account for 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “These will be our future service providers and career professionals, our future leaders, scientists and inventors, and this is the generation that we need to help educate now,” she added. Smith is proud of the impact she and her team have already demonstrated in the foundation’s short five year history.

An anonymous donor for many years, Smith was a founding investor in Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), the organization that utilizes a business approach to giving. As she put it in a recent interview, “VPP helped develop best practices for investing in the social sector, and, with this, the importance of outcome measurements and results.” Smith is also a former member of Georgetown University’s board of regents and of the Harvard Kennedy School’s dean’s council, her alma mater.

This interview appears in the July 2020 Edition of Washington Life Magazine.

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Abigail Galván Joins Crimsonbridge as Communications and Program Officer

June 2020

Washington, DC – The Crimsonbridge Foundation welcomes Abigail Galván as its new Communications and Program Officer.  Since its inception, Crimsonbridge has invested in and advocated for the key role that communications plays in amplifying impact and helping advance an organization’s mission. Galván, who most recently served as the Religious Freedom Institute’s Development Director, will lead the foundation’s internal communications, while also working to support the foundation’s innovative communications capacity building programs, which focus on increasing effective and inclusive bilingual and Spanish language communications for nonprofits and schools. She will also work to design and initiate new programming to increase Hispanic community engagement and Spanish language communications with parishes.

In her most recent position at the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), Galván was critical in helping launch the start-up and establishing the systems and relationships necessary to set it up for long term success. As Development Director she worked closely with RFI’s Communications Director to develop the institute’s tone, messaging, and branding in order to communicate its impact to diverse audiences and stakeholders.

Prior to joining RFI, she helped devise, finance, and launch the Bethlehem Museum for Heritage and Culture as the special program coordinator of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Galván has also had the privilege of participating as a region IV delegate in the V Encuentro, a significant ecclesial process by which bishops come together with the Hispanic/Latino community to interpret and to project into the future the Hispanic/Latino identity, presence, needs, and contributions to the Church and to U.S. society as a whole. Since the process, she has been involved with the execution of the strategies and recommendations from the V Encuentro and looks forward to continuing this work in a professional capacity at Crimsonbridge.

“The foundation has been intentional about building a team rich in nonprofit work and leadership experience” says Danielle M. Reyes, executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. “Abigail’s interests and impressive background are remarkably aligned with the foundation’s programs and mission.”

Galván, who resides in Washington, DC, received her bachelor’s degree in International Politics with a concentration in International Law, Norms, and Institutions from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is also a proud scholar of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, a community partner program of the Crimsonbridge Foundation.


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FADICA-sponsored research identifies keys to Catholic parish vitality

Four key areas studied, eight characteristics identified

Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities June 2020

A COMMUNITY PARTNER PRESS RELEASE:
(Washington, DC) — Catholic parishes that are welcoming and missionary create real vitality in the life of the parish says a major new study titled, “Open Wide the Doors to Christ: A Study of Catholic Social Innovation for Parish Vitality.” The research was commissioned by FADICA, a unique peer network of philanthropists supporting Catholic activities, and conducted by Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. and Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA.

“Parishes with vitality send people out in service to others in the community, letting go of parochial barriers,” Dr. Jewell said.

“Without denying the challenging realities for many parishes, what we also found was hope-filled parishes, whole communities excited about their parish and their future,” said Mr. Mogilka.

“We are pleased to be releasing the findings of this timely study,” said Alexia Kelley, FADICA President & CEO. “Perhaps one outcome from this period of pandemic could be that as parishes begin to re-open, pastors and parish leaders equipped with the study’s findings might find life-giving strategies relevant to their own context,” said Kelley.

FADICA’s member Working Group on Church Vitality focused on how Catholic social innovation might foster vitality in U.S. Catholic parishes.  In 2018, FADICA produced a groundbreaking study titled, Catholic Social Innovation in the Global Refugee Crisis.  This second study on parish vitality further articulates the concept of Catholic social innovation.

FADICA’s working group chose to focus the research on best practices and innovation in four distinct areas: Welcoming, Young Adults, Lay and Religious Women in Leadership, and Hispanic Ministry. The research entailed a review of more than 200 initiatives, websites and books, and more than 65 interviews with pastoral leaders and innovators across the country.  The research team also explored more than 20 different metric tools designed to measure parish vitality.

“We believe there are amazing assets in the diversity of the Catholic community, said Gabriela Smith, President and Founder, Crimsonbridge Foundation, a funder of the study. “By learning from dioceses and parishes experiencing parish vitality in these four areas of focus, we can share and replicate successful practices and communication strategies that support active and inclusive parish communities,” she said.

Based on this in-depth study, the report highlights seven key characteristics which together generate vitality in Catholic parishes, as follows:

  • Innovation. Pastoral leaders engage in a variety of innovative processes to address difficult challenges they face.  Use of digital tools like the parish website and social media are considered important ways to connect with people, especially young adults.
    • Have excellent pastors. These pastors have a desire, qualities and skills to work collaboratively and co-responsibly with staff and parish leaders. 

    “One of the most important findings is that pastors need to be ‘relational’ in every sense of the word,” said Jewell. “They need to be adaptive and open to new ways of doing things and being relational can be a learned skill,” she said.

    • Have leadership teams. The essential contribution of lay leaders – both staff and volunteers, share responsibility for the life of the parish with the pastor. 

    “Pastors realize that they can’t do it all and they need a team,” said Mogilka.  “In parishes with much vitality, we found pastors who are collaborative, servant-pastoral leaders who know how to identify gifts and talents, to affirm those gifts and talents and to empower lay people,” Mogilka said.  

    • Possess a holistic, compelling vision. Pastoral leaders have a vision for parish life that includes engaging in relational ministry, fostering authentic relationships within the parish community.
    • Place priority on Sunday experience.  An importance is placed on gathering for Sunday Mass to hear God’s Word, celebrate and share the Eucharist, and being sent forth in service.
    • Foster spiritual growth and maturity.  A variety of entry points are provided for all people to build their relationship with Jesus that sustains them on their journey.
    • Live the faith in service. Parishes live out the call to form missionaries by enabling parishioners to meet the spiritual and human needs of the marginalized, hungry and homeless; and to care for our communities and creation.
    • Utilize online communications tools. The parish website is the doorway – the first place people “check out” the parish. Good, interactive, and culturally sensitive websites are critical, as well as the proper use of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    Researchers Jewell and Mogilka studied the four specific areas of parish life selected by the FADICA working group and drew these conclusions:

    Welcoming Parishes.  Not surprising, parishes with vitality have a welcoming spirit and are intentional about the “process of welcoming,” starting with trained greeters, identifying special opportunities to publicly welcome newcomers, e.g., at weddings, baptisms and funerals, outreach and invitation initiatives found on the parish website and offered via social ministry.

    Young Adults.  Keys to engaging this group of parishioners include really listening to young adults, building relationships and responding to their needs, ensuring that young adults are integrated into the leadership groups at the parish, paying attention to the engaged and married couples and young families, and using social media and personal contact to build relationships.

    Women and Women Religious in Leadership. Parishes with vitality hire lay and women religious at all levels of leadership responsibility, support and affirm their leadership and ensure balanced representation by women and men on councils and committees. The researchers encouraged bishops to deploy Canon 517.2, which allows the appointment of “deacons and others who are not priests” to provide pastoral care of parishes in cases when there is a shortage of priests. The study pointed out that over 3,300 parishes lack a resident priest, but the number of dioceses using this option is declining.

    Hispanic Ministry.  Parish diversity is seen as a grace for parishes with vitality.  Pastoral leaders are sensitive to the variety of cultures present, provide cultural sensitivity training for staff and volunteers, offer bi-lingual liturgies, as well as printed and digital materials, and specific devotions and celebrations for feast days for the entire community.

    “The recommendations of the parish vitality study are practical, relevant, and speak directly to the success that investments in communications capacity building can have towards building thriving, inclusive, and engaged parish communities,” said Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director, Crimsonbridge Foundation.

    “The pandemic has really caused pastors and parish leaders to stretch themselves and to be open to new ways of doing things,” said Jewell. 

    The study concluded that parishes with vitality are open to listening and designing new and creative ways to respond to the changing culture with enthusiasm, intentional hospitality, and who welcome diversity as a grace.  To read the Executive Summary, click here. To read the full report, click here.

    ###

    Media Contact
    Tom Gallagher
    Religion Media Company
    (203) 561-3585 / tleogallagher@gmail.com

    About FADICA
    Since its establishment in 1976, FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities) has become the leading philanthropic peer network which serves as a catalyst for a vital Catholic Church, Catholic ministries, and the common good. The organization promotes the growth and effectiveness of Catholic philanthropy inspired by the joy of the Gospel and the Catholic social tradition.  For more information on FADICA, see www.fadica.org.

    About the Researchers
    Marti R. Jewell, D.Min. Dr. Marti R. Jewell, Associate Professor Emerita, served as an associate professor of pastoral theology in the Neuhoff School of Ministry at the University of Dallas and was named the University’s 2017 “Michael A. Haggar Scholar.” She directed the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project, a national research initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment designed to study excellence in parish leadership, and was a diocesan director in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Her books include Navigating Pastoral Transitions: A Parish Leaders’ Guide, The Changing Face of Church, and The Next Generation of Pastoral Leaders. She received the Called and Gifted Award from the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry for her contributions to the field of lay ecclesial ministry, and the Lumen Gentium award from the Conference for Pastoral Planners and Council Development for her work and research with parishes and pastoral leaders. She continues to write, consult, and teach. Dr. Jewell holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America.

    Mark Mogilka, MSW, MA Mark Mogilka serves as Senior Consultant for Meitler, a Church planning and management consulting firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to his retirement from diocesan ministry in June 2017, Mogilka served for 42 years in diocesan office ministries in three dioceses and served seven different bishops. He has master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and Religious Studies from the University of Detroit. He has done workshops, consulting and planning projects in over 60 different dioceses in the United States and Canada and continues to serve the Church as a workshop presenter, pastoral researcher and consultant. He co-authored a book entitled “Pastoring Multiple Parishes.” In 2007 he received the Yves Congar Award for “extraordinary service, initiative, creativity and sharing” from the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development. In 2017 he was given the Rev. Louis J Luzbetak Award by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University “for exemplary church research”.

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How You Can be There for a Young Parent in College

Guest post by Devon Haynes of Generation Hope May 2020

Generation Hope Scholars are no strangers to overcoming obstacles and persisting against the odds. They are all young parents in college, and every day they are balancing a combination of going to school, parenting, and dealing with the range of systemic and logistical challenges that come with being a low-income parent of color. They are also working, primarily in the retail and service industries, and some are even caring for their own parents. 

Nationally, the outlook is bleak: fewer than 2% of women who have a baby by age 18 go on to earn their degree before age 30. COVID-19 has thrown up yet another roadblock for Generation Hope Scholars, but with wraparound support that includes financial aid, academic tutoring, caring mentors, mental health care, career readiness support, and case management, we can ensure the pandemic doesn’t derail their dreams. 

If you’re looking for ways to build community and make a lasting impact, consider joining Generation Hope as a Mentor for a Scholar. 

Generation Hope is currently seeking caring adult mentors who will support a young parent as they work toward their dream of graduating college. Our mentors are people from all walks of life who are passionate about supporting teen parents in college and believe that education can be transformative for two generations–our Scholars and their children. 

Each Mentor builds a strong bond with their Scholar, meeting up once a month to do a fun activity or to just catch up. Generation Hope’s program fosters meaningful, long-term connections since Mentors support their Scholars through their entire college journey. Mentors are a consistent person Scholars can turn to for encouragement or a listening ear.  

“My mentor Lisa and I have grown very close in the past 5 years. As Lisa says, I am the tightrope walker, and she is my safety net. She has been one of my biggest supporters throughout school, always celebrating times in which I have gotten a 4.0 in the semester, made the Dean’s List, or when I have received scholarships. She has also been there for me during the difficult times. Lisa is always there to listen to me. Lisa always believed I was going to get through it no matter what and reminded me of how close I was getting to my goal. I am grateful that Lisa never let me stop.” – Ana (George Mason University) Pictured Left: Mentor Lisa with Scholar Ana and her children

Mentors also play a role with financial support. Mentors commit to providing $1,200/year ($100/month) toward their Scholar’s tuition if the Scholar is attending a 2-year college or $2,400/year ($200/month) if the Scholar is attending a 4-year college. This contribution — made monthly or once a year — bridges the gap between a Scholar’s financial aid (including government Pell Grants) and the real cost of attending college, to help them graduate with as little debt as possible. Mentors make this tax-deductible donation themselves or raise it through fundraising. 

Generation Hope Mentors are the “special sauce” that help our Scholars beat the odds–graduating at a rate that is nearly 8 times the graduation rate of single mothers nationwide, and exceeding the average rate for all college students. And we provide robust support to our Mentors. Each Mentor is backed up day-to-day by our staff of case workers, or “Hope Coaches,” and we also have a Mental Health Coordinator on staff. We are truly a team, so mentors don’t feel like they are on their own.

Will you join us as a Mentor for our incoming Scholar class? In the face of the incredible challenges from COVID-19, we’ve already seen so many inspiring examples of what is possible when communities come together to help one another through these tough times. To learn more, or to apply, visit our website or contact our Director of Programming, Caroline Griswold Short (caroline@supportgenerationhope.org). 

Generation Hope is one of six nonprofit organizations focused on student success that is part of the 3-year College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative in partnership with the Crimsonbridge Foundation and the Scheidel Foundation.

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Message to Our Community Partners – May 2020

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith May 2020

Two months ago, we initiated a remote work plan for our team. While adapting personally and professionally to the current climate, the Crimsonbridge team kept grants, programs, and communications work moving forward and we are grateful for their commitment. As we look ahead, Crimsonbridge is prepared to remain a teleworking organization for the foreseeable future, but this has not and will not change our availability, our interest in participating in #community events, or the long-term goals of our grantmaking work in Education, Leadership Development, and Communications Capacity Building.

Crimsonbridge team members have worked closely, even while virtual, with our grantee community partners on promoting Census 2020, identifying new leaders for the Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund, and preparing for the fourth year of the Hispanic Education Imperative Fund. We are committed to moving our shared work forward and programs such as the College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative, Hispanic Education Imperative, Bridges for Schools, Bridges for Census 2020, and Crimsonbridge Leadership Fund remain engaged and focused on supporting the success of students, parents, organizations, and nonprofit leaders. In addition, we have been vocal advocates on program-aligned issues that have received increased attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the urgent need for bilingual/Spanish language communications and the need for tools and resources to support the retention and graduation of first generation college students.

Over the past eight weeks, the Foundation has joined philanthropic partners in supporting the development of funds to meet urgent needs in the Greater Washington region, while keeping it’s focus on sustainability for the long term. Recent and ongoing efforts include:

  • Emergency Relief. We contributed early to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund at Greater Washington Community Foundation and are directing requests for emergency funding to this Fund.
  • Flexibility. Our existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise continues as always.
  • Sharing Messages. The Foundation is using its communications capacity and reach to help share your work, needs, and messaging with the hope of increasing visibility and connecting partners to resources. Email your program officer to share content.
  • Added Accessibility. We are here for you. Our team members can always be reached by email and can also be reached by phone or video via Zoom.
  • Staying Connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news to stay informed.
  • Staying Engaged. Our staff continue to participate in community partner activities and are eager to attend online events and even volunteer where possible. Visit our #community page to learn more or reach out to your program officer with an opportunity.

In closing, we want to express our deep gratitude. Over the past two months, we have watched school and nonprofit partners continue to demonstrate a passion for their work, ability to adapt, and commitment to our region’s children, students, families, and communities. We stand with you and we give thanks for all of the teachers, administrators, nonprofit employees, and essential workers in our community who are helping, supporting, and caring for friends and neighbors in need.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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DC Scores Cites Bilingual Capacity to Virtual Transition Success

Guest post by Caitlin Furey with Anthony Francavilla of DC Scores April 2020

At the beginning of March, DC SCORES was busy gearing up for their spring season. For twelve weeks each spring, over 3,000 students at 65 schools play soccer, write poetry, and serve their community with DC SCORES. When schools closed in response to the spread of COVID-19, DC SCORES had to act quickly. Rather than cancelling their season, DC SCORES committed to staying connected to as many of their poet-athletes as possible while they are at home. Within three weeks, DC SCORES had built an online learning portal called SCORES at Home. Updated daily with new writing and soccer lessons, along with supplemental resources that might be helpful to the students and their families, the online learning portal is bilingual, offering all resources in both English and Spanish. DC SCORES knows that this will allow them to reach more families – over 40% of DC SCORES participants are Latino.

How did DC SCORES have the capacity to develop SCORES at Home as a fully bilingual online learning portal? The organization has been strategically building their capacity to effectively communicate with bilingual and Spanish-speaking families for at least three years. In 2017, DC SCORES launched the Familias Unidas Initiative after conducting focus groups with Spanish-speaking parents of DC SCORES participants. These focus groups, which were led by DC SCORES’ Latino Engagement Coordinator, informed a strategy to increase the organization’s cultural competency and sensitivity and launch a Spanish-language communications plan. In 2018, the Crimsonbridge Foundation made a grant to DC SCORES through our Bridges Program to support Spanish-language communications capacity building efforts, including the creation of a Spanish-language microsite, a ¡Conoce más sobre DC SCORES! video, and other communications collateral.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of investing in communications, especially communications to reach members of the community who do not speak English. Tony Francavilla, DC SCORES Chief Development Officer, reflects, “ DC SCORES is so much better equipped to communicate with our Spanish-speaking families through SCORES at Home, our Parent Resource Center, and through direct communication than we were a couple years ago. Our bilingual Communications and Engagement Manager has been essential in basically every part of our work since we went virtual.”

DC Scores will host Our Words Our City – Live! – a virtual event – on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 7pm. To participate register here.

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Liberty’s Promise and Census 2020

April 2020

A Community Partner Guest Post
Liberty’s Promise supports immigrant youth in the Greater Washington region by providing them with means to become actively involved in civic life, pursue higher education, and embark upon meaningful careers. In the fall of 2019, we introduced the topic of the census to our youth through our two after school programs at Gaithersburg High School, Civics and Citizenship, and Civic Engagement for Beginning English Language Learners (CE‐BELL). We started by discussing what the census is and how important it is for the community and the country. We explained how the Census is safe and anonymous, and does not put the population, including the most vulnerable individuals such as undocumented residents, at risk of being exposed to law enforcement authorities.

Our youth learned about how they can play a crucial role in Gaithersburg’s outreach efforts in hard-to-count census tracts. We invited a graphic designer employed by the City of Gaithersburg to give our youth insight on how to design a flyer. With the help of the graphic designer, youth worked together in small groups and used their talents to design and create posters to display at Gaithersburg High School. Our youth also participated in a photo and video shoot as part of the Gaithersburg Census 2020 campaign. Youth and staff alike enjoyed being part of the event, and are now featured on the City’s website. If you drive around Gaithersburg, you may see them on promotional posters at various bus stops!

Since schools closed in early March in response to COVID-19, Liberty’s Promise has been working to adjust our programs. We are now relying on social platforms, video-conferencing, and phone calls to continue our work with our youth. Census outreach will no longer be conducted in-person, so our youth are working on crafting a video message and a graphic to share on social media. Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, our youth are still working to help achieve a Complete Count for Census 2020 in our community of Gaithersburg!  

By Julien Labiche, Director of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Programs, Liberty’s Promise.
Liberty’s Promise was featured in the Special Census 2020 edition of in Gaithersburg. Click to read: “OUTREACH & ADVOCACY: Census and Youth Mentoring Programs

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A Message to Our Community Partners

Danielle M. Reyes & Gabriela Smith

We are writing to you with hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. During this time, the foundation and its team members remain committed to our community partnerships, as we all experience the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) personally and professionally.

In light of unforeseen challenges of the current climate, we are adapting some practices, while doubling down on others. Over the past week, we’ve connected directly with partners to address any specific concerns. In addition, we seek to provide flexibility and support to all of our community partners in the following ways:

  1. Extensions for reports and proposals. The Foundation reminds you of its existing policy of flexibility with proposal and final report due dates as urgent needs arise. Contact us.
  2. Sharing your messages. The Crimsonbridge Foundation and its team want to help share your work and needs and will use our communications resources to extend your reach. Have an urgent message? Email your program officer.
  3. Added accessibility. We are here for you. Though working remotely, our team members can always be reached by email and can now be reached by Zoom and Google Hangouts.
  4. Staying connected. Our whole team is on Twitter as is the Foundation at @CrimsonbridgeDC. Please know we value all of your communications and are reviewing our grantee partner information daily, from email to online news.

We also want to say, “Thank you!” to our nonprofit and school community partners for all that you continue to do during this unprecedented time. Though information on COVID-19 continues to develop daily, we’ve watched schools and nonprofits demonstrate their ability to be responsive, nimble, and committed to the children and families of our region. We stand with you in this commitment.

Sincerely,

Danielle M. Reyes, Executive Director and Gabriela Smith, Founder & President

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Goal to Reach 21,000 Adult Learners by 2021

Caitlin Furey January 2020

The Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a coalition of over 60 English language instruction programs, is working to build a thriving community and effective workforce in Montgomery County, MD.  According to census data, there are over 126,000 adults in the county who are limited in their English proficiency.  In response to a growing need for English language instruction, MCAEL set a goal to grow its annual reach from 15,000 to 21,000 adult learners by 2021.  Potential strategies for expansion include partnering with public schools, utilizing literacy apps to serve learners who cannot attend in-person classes, and providing tools to community-based organizations that are positioned to start their own ESOL programs.  The Crimsonbridge Foundation is supporting these targeted efforts to develop new ESOL learning opportunities for hard-to-reach populations in Montgomery County.  In this video, hear from two adult learners about their experiences learning English at the Family Discovery Center, a provider in the MCAEL network. 

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