PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) was recently awarded financial support from the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU), to support participation in the largest-ever institutional collaborative effort to collect and share date geared at finding solutions for college access and help generate more graduates from underrepresented minority, low-income, and first generation backgrounds. Dr. Braque Talley, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Success at UAPB, has a passion for student success and retention and the grant will support his efforts to improve local and national education opportunities.

Dr. Braque Talley, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Success at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“Getting students enrolled in college is no longer enough,said Dr. Talley. “We don’t just want students to attend UAPB. We want them to graduate from here as well. The success of our students is a priority for our Chancellor.”

Dr. Talley is using the funds to help review best practices that help with student successes and share the successful initiatives that impact institutional equity. As a participant, Dr. Talley will share his date with other public universities working together to increase college access, eliminate the achievement gap, and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.

“By collecting, reporting, and analyzing data from students of all backgrounds across the country, it will help to foster more informed decisions about how to improve opportunities and support the current gaps in student success,” said Dr. Talley.

“Dr. Talley’s dedication to student individual success is evident,” said George Cotton, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at UAPB. “Since day one, he has been driven to finding solutions to help student succeed, generate retention for the university, and help young people find their place in the world.” Even amid history’s worst pandemic, Dr. Talley was relentless in finding ways to stay engaged with local youth and help students find success. He and his team are credited for helping UAPB reach the largest enrollment increase in nearly a decade and increase the retention rate the one of the highest in the university’s history, according to reports.

“We are proud of our participation in this new initiative focused on data-driven research to determine solutions for student outcomes,” said Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, UAPB Chancellor. “UAPB is committed to being more student-focused and more responsive to change with the goal of increasing student success and the removal of impediments to student retention, progression, and timely graduation.”

Other institutions selected for the nationwide initiative are Clemson University; Illinois State University; Ohio University; Middle Tennessee State University; Montana State University; New Mexico State University; University of New Orleans; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Rutgers University-Newark; University of South Alabama; Texas Tech University; Tuskegee University; Virginia Commonwealth University; Western Michigan University; and University of Wyoming.

Dr. Talley proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the HBCU Campaign Fund.

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About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit www.uapb.edu.

(LITTLE ROCK, AR) – Philander Smith College, a private historically black liberal arts college located in Little Rock, Arkansas, was recently named a recipient of a $300,000 award from Microsoft to participate in the company’s community skills grant program. The grant will provide unrestricted funds over the next three years to support the institution’s WISE P3 workforce development initiative.

“This recognition by Microsoft amplifies our vision to enhance employability skills as part of our commitment to workforce development in Arkansas. We are so pleased that Philander Smith College has been cited for the demonstrated focus we are placing on information technology, which is such an important aspect of job skills training,” said Roderick L. Smothers Sr., Philander Smith College’s President.

Microsoft’s community skills program is a part of its broader commitment to skills for employability and promoting racial equity in the United States. It is a $15 million investment over three years to accelerate the work of Black- and African American- led nonprofits that provide digital skills and workforce development to Black and African American communities.

The Center for Workforce Innovation and Strategic Economic Public-Private Partnerships (WISE P3) at Philander Smith College has been operational for five years and is spearheaded by Executive Director Glenn Sergeant.

Acknowledging the technology company’s investment, Sergeant said, “With this grant award to WISE P3, Microsoft has taken a giant step towards its recent commitment to put its data, technology, and partnerships to work to help improve the lives of African Americans across the country.” He continued, “Further, it will be instrumental in helping Philander Smith College reach its goal in reducing barriers that have largely kept Black Arkansas from accessing the millions of jobs created in the tech sector in the last decade alone.”

One of the 50 community-based nonprofits to participate in its community skills grant program nationwide, Philander Smith College was the only institution of higher learning to receive an award. In addition to financial support, the College will also receive concierge service from Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) team that will include on-demand technical support along with Microsoft software and services.

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About the Microsoft Community Skills Program: Microsoft is a technoloy company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft strives to create local opportunities, growth, and impact in every country around the world. Microsoft’s grant strategy aligns with a broader community skills program that is grounded in the idea that everyone should have access to digital skills, and community racial justice work that harnesses technology to rebalance the odds for Black Americans, especially where work is concerned. More information about the Microsoft Community Skills Program can be found at https://news.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2020/09/02/digital-skills-grants-icstars-tech-diversity/.

About Philander Smith College
Philander Smith College, founded in 1877, is one of the oldest private, historically black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA. For more information, visit www.philander.edu.

Alabama Power’s Eastern Division Vice President, Mr. Terry Smiley, met with Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins to announce a $150,000 grant from Alabama Power and its parent, Southern Company, to support technology and infrastructure needs at Talladega College.

(TALLADEGA, AL) – Talladega College is receiving a $150,000 grant from Alabama Power and its parent, Southern Company, to support technology and infrastructure needs. The gift is part of Southern Company and its subsidiaries’ $50 million HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Initiative, a multiyear funding strategy announced in January 2020 that provides HBCU students with scholarships, internships, leadership development and access to technology and innovation to support career readiness.

The funds awarded to Talladega College will be used to improve technology bandwidth throughout campus, provide technology resources for faculty and staff, and build capacity to support infrastructure expansion.

“We are so grateful to receive this generous grant from Alabama Power and Southern Company,” said Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, Talladega College President. “With record-breaking enrollment increases and three new building on campus, our technology needs have increased significantly. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has altered the way we serve our students and created new challenges. This grant will help us continue to provide an outstanding academic experience for students by expanding our technology capabilities.”

Alabama Power and Southern Company are honored to be a part of a growing group of corporate and philanthropic partners that have increased support for HBCUs in the wake of COVID-19 and mounting calls for racial justice. Both businesses believe deeply in the importance of HBCUs in higher education and in their impact on economic development, innovation and American Life.

“Our hope is that this funding will draw further recognition to schools like Talladega College and deepen partnerships between business and civic leaders and these vital institutions,” said Terry Smiley, Alabama Power’s Eastern Division Vice President. “HBCUs are at the forefront of innovation and academic excellence in Alabama, and across the country, and we hope that our company’s investment will only accelerate this important work.”

Alabama Power and Southern Company are committed to the success of HBCUs and fostering greater diversity and inclusion cross the communities they serve.

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About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It is founded in 1867 by two former slaves, Williams Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) announced on August 6, 2020, the award of more than $3.5 million to 11 Mississippi universities and community colleges for student support services. This award includes three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The Mississippi institutions were eligible to take advantage of an extended U.S. Department of Education application deadline offered to schools located within federal disaster areas. The Student Support Services (SSS) Program awards represent first year funding of an anticipated five-year grant program.

“The Student Support Services Program funding gives these Mississippi schools resources to help students navigate post-secondary education requirements, which will be further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic over the next few semesters,” said Hyde-Smith, who serve on the Senate appropriation subcommittee with jurisdiction over federal education programs.

“I’m grateful our universities and community colleges affected by disasters, like flooding and severe storms, were giving additional time to quality for and win these grants,” she said.

The SSS, one of eight federal TRIO Programs, works to increase the college retention and graduation rates through programs to help students meet basic college requirements. The assistance may include grant aid to current SSS participants receiving federal Pell Grants.

The Mississippi schools receiving FY2020 SSS Program grants include:

  • Alcorn State University – $392,322
  • Copiah-Lincoln Community College – $338,971
  • Hinds Community College – $329,897
  • Holmes Community College – $337,287
  • Jackson State University (two grants) – $523,776
  • Mississippi State University – $292,898
  • Mississippi Valley State University – $305,957
  • Northwest Mississippi Community College – $334,571
  • Pearl River Community College – $372,972
  • University of Southern Mississippi – $306,037

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FAIRFIELD, AL – As part of its $5 million commitment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Regions Bank awarded Miles College a grant for $25,000 in support of President Bobbie Knight’s student COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Support will provide emergency assistance to students with financial need, including housing, food, childcare, transportation, and learning technology.

“Miles College values our enduring partnership with Regions Bank and recognizes Regions as a leader in corporate citizenship in our community,” said Bobbie Knight, Miles College President. “Thoughout our long history, Regions has offered support of Miles and has answered the call to foster resources to assist our students in their pursuit of higher education attainment.”

It this unprecedented time, Region’s support will go a long way to provide educational resources to Miles College students, in light of the effects and interruptions of COVID-19.

“Regions Banks is a longtime community partner with Miles College, and together, we want to support the progress students have mad toward earning their degrees. COVID-19 presents many challenges, including the need for courses to remain online and for students to have access to the technology they need to build on their education. This grant is designed to help meet both needs as Miles College continues connecting students with top-quality education,” said Leroy Abrahams, Head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank.

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About Miles College

Miles College, founded in 1898, is a premier liberal arts institution located in metropolitan Birmingham within the corporate limits of the City of Fairfield. The noble founders of the institution saw education leadership as the paramount need in the black community. Miles, which is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and accredited by Commission on Colleges for the awarding of Baccalaureate Degrees, is the only four-year institution in historic Birmingham, Alabama designated as a member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Learn more at www.miles.edu.

The campus of Voorhees College, a Historically Black College, located in Denmark, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of the HCF)

DENMARK, S.C. – The United Thank Offering (UTO) of the Episcopal Church recently awarded Voorhees College $73,700 to assist with the Voorhees College Campus Community Initiative (VCCCI).

According to a press release from the University, the VCCCI is a two-part project that allows Voorhees to meet the needs of students and community by providing access to education and wellness limited in rural South Carolina. The institution will renovate a building to serve as an admissions center and will create a wellness and fitness complex.

The United Thank Offering is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that promotes thankfulness and service in the church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded on an annual basis for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.

The focus of the 2019 granting process was “Go Crossing boundaries created by race, culture, and economics to create communities that listen deeply and learn to live like Jesus.” This year, the UTO Board received more than 75 applications and was able to fund grants to 33 projects.

Voorhees College President W. Franklin Evans said Voorhees would not have reached as many heights as it has without the support of the Episcopal Church. “It is an honor and a blessing to receive that financial assistance to rebuild the campus and the Denmark community. This partnership is strong and built on faith, Evans said. “With God in control, the boundaries will be limitless on continuing to make Voorhees a premier liberal arts institutions,” said Evans.

Voorhees College and Saint Augustine’s are the only Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that supported by the Episcopal Church.

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About Voorhees College

Voorhees College is a private historically black liberal arts institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church, whose mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, health living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. For more information, visit www.voorhees.edu.

About United Thank Offering

The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. Through UTO, individuals are invited to embrace and deepen a personal daily spiritual discipline of gratitude. UTO encourages people to notice the good things that happen each day, give thanks to God for those blessings and make an offering for each blessing using a UTO Blue Box. UTO is entrusted to receive the offerings, and to distribute the 100% of what is collected to support innovate mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and Provinces of the Anglican Communion. For more information, visit www.episcopalchurch.org.

JACKSON, MS – Jackson State University, a historically black university, located in Jackson, Mississippi is among four Mississippi universities where a $20 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation will spur creative discovery and economic opportunities through Mississippi’s research universities.

According to a new release by the University, the state of Mississippi will establish the Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronices, an inter-disciplinary, multi-institution materials research program. Mississippi State University (MSU) will serve as the project’s administrative lead, and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) will serve as the science lead. Along with MSU and USM, Jackson State University (JSU) and the University of Mississippi (UM) will be a part of the new center, which will facilitate the development of research capabilities and educational opportunities in the growing optoelectronic, energy and biotechnology research field.

The NSF grant comes through the organization’s EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program, which enhances the research competitiveness of states and jurisdictions by strengthening STEM capacity and capability.

“This initiative will be a tremendous benefit to the people of Mississippi and to our research universities,” said Mark E. Keenum, MSU President. “Increasing our university research capabilities makes our state and our institution more competitive, increases educational opportunities and keeps us at forefront of emerging technologies. This new center and its focus on organic semiconductors will make existing Mississippi industries more competitive and help the state attract new companies. I am proud that MSU is playing a lead role in this endeavor.”

MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw is the principal investigator and project director for the grant. Sarah Morgan of USM is the science director. Co-principal investigators include Jason Azoulay from USM, Jared Delcamp from UM and Glake Hill from JSU.

“I am so pleased that the National Science Foundation selected our faculty as the science lead for this important project,” said Rodney D. Bennett, University of Southern Mississippi President. “With USM’s Center for Optoelectronic Materials and Devices serving as the mission center for this grant, our internationally-renowned polymer science and engineering experts look forward to partnering with Mississippi’s other research institutions as they examine far more complicated processes than ever before. I am confident their work will impact our communities positively for many years to come.”

The Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics will develop new, unified research methodologies an organic semiconductors, an area that is vital to the advancement of diverse areas such as technology, electronics and biomedicine. To facilitate the research, the center will establish state-of-the-art research instrumentation for common use across the state and support collaborative research among institutions. The new scientific infrastructure will fill a void for the state and facilitate advanced basic and applied research.

“The University of Mississippi is pleased to be a member of this dynamic, multi-institutional team for the Center of Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics and help develop pivotal research capabilities that will be benefit Mississippi, our nation and the world,” said Jeffrey S. Vitter, UM Chancellor. “This initiative will bolster collaborative research efforts and continue pioneering STEM workforce development, which is critical for attracting high tech industry to the state.”

New optoelectronic functionality developed by center research will support the basic knowledge necessary to bring new technologies to reality, resulting in new intellectual property and potential job creation.

“Jackson State University is elated to be a partner of this groundbreaking venture for the state of Mississippi and Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Dr. William B. Bynum Jr., president of Jackson State. “It is my hope that we continue to expand on these opportunities to spur economic growth for Mississippi and enhance opportunities for our students.”

The new center will benefit from connections to national laboratories, NSF Top 100 research universities, state development officials and representatives from industry. The grant will also fund K-14 outreach efforts aimed at creating a stronger, more diverse pipeline of STEM students.

“The grant from the National Science Foundation demonstrates the incredible capabilities housed within our research universities,” said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. “Working together, these capabilities are amplified. The research conduced through this grant will put Mississippi on the forefront of emerging technologies.”

PRAIRIE VIEW, TX – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) a grant of $500,000 to support its effort to establish an African-American Studies Initiative which will be housed in its Marvin D. and June Samuel Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences. Inspired by the Mellon Foundation award, an anonymous donor pledged an added $250,000 to help fund this initiative. The generous donation is eligible for a $250,000 university match, bringing the total support for the initiative launch to $1 million.

According to an press release by the university, the project, Enhancing the Humanities at PVAMU Through African-American Studies Program Initiative, is designed to selectively infuse African-American Studies content throughout the university’s liberal art offerings. The initial concept for the program was conceived when Prairie View President Ruth J. Simmons called for the creation of an African-American Studies program in her first campus — wide address. Having directed Afro American Studies at Princeton and Chaired the African-American Studies Department Visiting Committee at Harvard, President Simmons expressed surprise and disappointment that, given the University’s cultural legacy, it did not have a formal program in African-American Studies.

The Enhancing the Humanities at PVAMU through an African-­‐American Studies Program Initiative

The primary intent of the proposed program is to infuse PVAMU’s STEM-focused university with curricular content and programming that emphasizes the centrality and benefit of the Humanities and Social Sciences in undergraduate education. Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, along with additional gifts and donations, will allow faculty to revise and expand existing courses in the PVAMU Core Curriculum, in addition to developing new courses within and across the disciplines, to form and propose an African American Studies Program (AAS).

The initiative will provide an interdisciplinary study of the experiences of people of African descent in America and abroad. Scholarly activities will provide students, faculty and the PVAMU community with a fundamental understanding of the social economic, cultural and historical issues framing the contribution of African-American communities in America.

To ensure the success of the initiative, highly respected scholars will work with a select cohort of PVAMU faculty to act as advisors, assist in establishing program priorities, review core courses themes and hold public lectures and workshops reflecting their respective fields in African-American Studies.

“By strategically embedding African-American theme, based courses within the core curriculum, all students will have an opportunity to select courses that expand their academic interests while enhancing their engagement in the humanities,” explained James Palmer, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

Potential consultants include:

Melanye Price, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, (Lead Consultant, PVAMU Alumna);

Henry Louis Gates Jr, Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and American Research at Harvard University;

Paula J. Giddings, Elizabeth  A. Woodson 1922 Professor Emerita at Smith College;

Nell Irvin Painter, Edward Professor of American History Emerita at Princeton University;

W.G. Selassie l, Ralph Bunche Associate Professor of U.S. History and African American Studies at Los Angeles City College; and

Cornel West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University.

INSTITUTE, W. Va – The American Electric Power Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to West Virginia State University (WVSU) to help equip laboratories in the university’s new bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering program.

According to a press release by the university, the grant was announced today, the first day of classes for the fall 2018 semester for WVSU.

“As West Virginia seeks to diversify its economy, West Virginia State University is committed to educating students in fields that support new and emerging industries,” said Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins, WVSU President. “This new bachelor’s in chemical engineering will provide economic opportunities for citizens of central and southern West Virginia. I want to thank American Electric Power Foundation for their investment in our students, and for supporting the workforce development needs of the state and region.”

The grant from the AEP Foundation will be used to help equip laboratories used by students with state-of-the-art hands-on learning experiences in their engineering coursework as well as support faculty and undergraduate student research.

“Practically every career path we have at Appalachian Power has a strong STEM component,” said Appalachian Power President and COO Chris Beam. “Industries across West Virginia and beyond need more young people who are strong in these fields to fill the jobs we have here in West Virginia and beyond. We are excited that West Virginia State University is adding this new degree program, as a strong education system helps support the economic development initiatives within the state and the industries that will help us grow our economy.”

Beginning with the fall 2018 semester, WVSU now offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. The new program was approved by the West Virginia High Education Policy Commission and the Higher Learning Commission in 2017. The launch of the new program comes after years of planning and earlier attempts that had resulted in the creation of a 2+2 engineering program at the University in 2013.

The AEP Foundation is funded by American Electric Power and its utility operating units, including Appalachian Power. The Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP’s 11-state service area.

The Foundation focuses on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math and the environment, and by meeting basic needs for emergency shelter, affordable housing and the elimination of hunger. Other Foundation support may be offered to protect the environment, support healthcare and safety, and enrich life through art, music and cultural heritage.

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @WVStateU.

ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY

West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially, integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in institute, W.VA. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research. For more information, visit www.wvsu.edu.

[Photo creds: Demetrius Johnson, Jr., – HBCU Campaign Fund]
ATLANTA, GA – Clark Atlanta University (CAU) received a $20,000 grant from The UPS Foundation, which drives global corporate citizenship and philanthropic programs for UPS.

According to a press release by the university, for the fifth consecutive year CAU has been selected as a university partner for this vital program. The fellowship empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and local community engagement.

CAU hosted 25 students from 18 African countries. Their activities included a hands-on learning day at the UPS headquarters in Atlanta. Additionally, they experienced site visits to other Atlanta anchor companies, including IBM, The Coca-Cola Company and Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. They also exercised their philanthropic muscles with community service opportunities with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Trees Atlanta and MedShare International.

“We are honored to receive this vital donation from The UPS Foundation,” Mesfin Bezuneh, program director of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for CAU “Funding is a critical component for us to be able to continue this important initiative. We are immensely grateful for UPS’s generosity.”

“The UPS Foundation is honored to support the Young African Leaders Initiative’s efforts to engage rising African leaders,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS. “Our goal is to fund powerful programs that make a lasting difference to the global community.”

ABOUT THE UPS FOUNDATION

Established in 1951 and based in Atlanta, Ga., The UPS Foundation identifies specific areas where its backing giving: volunteerism, diversity, community safety and the environment. In 2017, UPS and its employees, active UPS.com/foundation. To get UPS news direct, visit pressroom.ups.com/RSS.

ABOUT THE MANDELA WASHINGTON FELLOWSHIP FOR YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. Department of State a conversation at #YALl2018. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship Institute at CAU, please contact Mesfin Bezuneh at mbezuneh@cau.edu or 404-880-6274.