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September 2017

Atlanta Oasis Story: Empowering People to Truly Live Well Using Plant-Based Meals

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On June 7th, the 10-day Pittsburgh Community Oasis Jumpstart Pilot was launched by the nonprofit, Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW), in Atlanta, Georgia. Twelve people completed the program. The Oasis Jumpstart Pilot Program was created by PlantPure Communities (PPC), a nonprofit organization, with the goal of empowering millions of people to take control and responsibility for their wellness. Through the Oasis Program, PPC is partnering with local groups like Truly Living Well to bring healthy food and science-based nutrition education to underserved neighborhoods across the country. The Pittsburgh Oasis Jumpstart is the first of five Pilots which are either complete or underway in other under-served neighborhoods in Rhode Island, California, Tennessee, and Arizona.

The Pittsburgh community was chosen for the Oasis Pilot Program because of its interest in healthy food alternatives.  Established by African Americans in 1883, on 554 acres in the aftermath of the Civil War in a segregated city, Pittsburgh is one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods. The railroad played a defining role in the development of Pittsburgh and the neighborhood’s earliest residents were laborers on the railroads. The neighborhood got its name because the land south of the Pegram Railroad repair yards was so polluted it was nicknamed “Pittsburgh,” after the steel mills in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is a USDA-designated food desert with a poverty rate that is roughly double that of Fulton County.

TLW  and its AmeriCorps VISTA’s program to improve food security have worked in the community for two years. The organization, which manages a food co-op with local residents, saw PPC as a great partner for introducing a plant based lifestyle. TLW is a nonprofit organization committed to “growing food, growing people, and growing community.”  Since 2006, TLW has engaged in local food production, urban ag education, training and outreach. The Oasis Pilot Program provided a source for nutrition education, plant based food, and a support group of like-minded people.

“The program really helped the participants and their families change the way they look at food. They’re choosing healthier options including more vegetables and fruits. People who have been eating a meat based diet for up to 50 years are now shifting their diet,” noted Ashley Jones, AmeriCorps VISTA Food Co-op Coordinator. On the first day of the Jumpstart, Emily Holland noted that she’d like to learn what she can do to improve or heal her condition rather than just manage the symptoms. “I’m getting married soon and I’d like to start my journey with my fiancé in the healthiest way possible. I really want us to do this together so I’m hoping he will join me and we can support one another.”

The focus of Oasis is both short-term benefits and long-term lasting change. Biomarker data was collected for participants before and after the Jumpstart so that each person could experience first-hand the powerful impact of nutrition on their health. On the last day of the Jumpstart, William Southwood, Emily’s fiancé, was extremely grateful for the Program. “This was special because 10 days ago, I was coming to support Emily.  Now, I have a new understanding our how our health, as humans, could have been so much better if we were eating plant-based!  I had no idea plant-based food could taste so good!”

The Oasis Program offers participants the opportunity to learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet, while enabling them to experience firsthand the powerful health impacts. The Oasis Pilots are modeled on the Jumpstarts conducted in Mebane, North Carolina, that were documented in the 2015 PlantPure Nation film. As part of the program, participants eat whole food, plant-based (WFPB) meals for the jumpstart period of 10 days. Lunch and Dinner entrees typically consisted of plant-based Kitchen Starter meals provided by PlantPure, Inc.

“Food-borne chronic disease in underserved neighborhoods is a fixable problem with science based nutrition education, delicious plant-based recipes and meals, and hands on learning,” said Jody Kass, executive director of PlantPure Communities. Nelson Campbell, founder of PPC, and creator of the vision for the Oasis Program said, “Our goal is to make sure everyone has access to healthy food and nutrition education, regardless of their background, location or socioeconomic status.”

The biomarker testing offered through Oasis provided a baseline for participants so they were able to see first-hand the powerful effects of a plant-based diet. Many of the participants expressed a desire for the program because of personal struggles with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

During the 10 days, participants also received nutrition education from Dr. Jennifer Rooke, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine.  Dr. Rooke talked to participants about the prevalence and dangers of oxidized cholesterol and noted, “Atherosclerosis, commonly known as clogged arteries, is the most common disease and cause of death on Earth. It is the most common underlying cause of a wide range of health outcomes that include high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, and heart attacks.  If we don’t get clarity about this disease and control it, millions of people will continue to suffer and die each year from an entirely preventable disease.  Atherosclerosis can be reversed by eliminating cholesterol-containing foods from the diet. We know this with certainty because we have pictures of plaque regression on oil-free, plant-based diets.”

Dr. Rooke has been practicing medicine for over 28 years and is very interested in the connection between lifestyle and disease. She holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the Center for Nutrition Studies/eCornell and is board certified in Public Health/Preventive Medicine and Occupational Medicine.

By the end of the program, participants of the Pittsburgh Oasis Pilot saw significant, positive changes. Several participants lost between 6 and 9 pounds and saw up to 5 inches disappear from their waistlines. In addition, many participants experienced the following health improvements:

  • Up to 30-point decreases in blood pressure
  • Up to 68-point decreases in total cholesterol
  • Up to 61-point decreases in LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Up to 175-point decreases in triglycerides

Carol Hunter, TLW Chief Administrative Officer, is grateful for the support of PPC in making the Oasis Program a reality in the Pittsburgh community.  “This partnership exemplified the power of people coming together to make a change and enabled a broad range of resources and expertise to provide a benefit for our community.”

For information about the PPC Oasis Program, contact PPC at and visit PPC’s website:

Providence Oasis Story: There’s a lot of love in this food!

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Pod leader Ella Rodriguez is all smiles!

In mid-June, Powered By Plants RI, a group that is part of the PlantPure Communities Pod Network, launched the 14-day Providence Oasis Jumpstart Pilot. Thirty people in one of the “unhealthiest zip codes” in Rhode Island participated, and it is estimated that over 100 lives or more were permanently changed by this project.

The nonprofit PlantPure Communities (PPC) created the Oasis Jumpstart Pilot Program, motivated by the goal of empowering millions of people to take control of their health. Through Oasis, PPC partners with local groups to bring healthy food and science-based nutrition education to underserved neighborhoods across the country. Oasis offers participants the opportunity to learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet, while enabling them to experience firsthand the powerful health impacts. The Oasis Pilots are modeled on the Jumpstarts conducted in Mebane, North Carolina that were documented in the 2015 PlantPure Nation film. As part of the Providence Oasis Pilot, participants ate locally prepared, whole plant-based meals for a ‘jumpstart’ period of 14 days. Biomarker data was collected before and after the jumpstart period so each person could see the specific changes in their blood tests over just 14 days.

The Powered by Plants RI group, which includes over 800 people in the Providence area, is part of the

Carts and cars filled with food on our three shopping excursions. Usually 4 carts and three cars full!

PlantPureCommunities Pod Network, which is leading a grassroots movement of independent local groups (also known as ‘Pods’) and people who promote the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle. As part of the Pod Network, Powered by Plants RI meets monthly to foster community, education and engagement. After watching the PlantPure Nation film, one of the Pod leaders, Kim Anderson, was inspired to bring the health message of plant-based food and nutrition to her community. She realized there were many in Rhode Island who would benefit from plant-based nutrition education, including professionals. “I loved the Jumpstart example in the film and felt we needed to have a local ‘proof of concept’ here, to share with the wider medical, governmental, corporate and nonprofit community,” Kim explained.

Chef Dan scooping out the homemade cashew sauce!

Kim led the Pilot with the help of several other community leaders from the Powered By Plants RI Pod. A professional chef ran the kitchen and food preparation for the 14-day meal program, while other Pod members arranged shopping trips to procure ingredients, served meals, cooked with the chef, and delivered food to events. “This was truly a grassroots community effort! Over 25 people from the Pod participated in a range of activities from shopping, preparing food, teaching participants how to cook, and more, representing well over 350 man-hours of work!” said Kim. “Everyone stepped up in a very big way. We were all thrilled with the opportunity to share this information with others.”

Many of the participants expressed a desire to participate in the program because of personal health struggles, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and digestive problems. “Before starting the program I was frustrated with my acid reflux, that I was not able to control with pills to alleviate the discomfort. It was making me cranky and unhappy all the time,” explained Edgar, a participant who was having difficulty sleeping and now feels like a “new man.”

Edgar stirring up a big pot of Thai curry veggies

The Pilot was kicked off with the biometric testing, which provided a baseline for participants to gauge the effects of a plant-based diet. “The bloodwork on day one was a real wakeup for many of our participants,” Kim explained. “Most had something that concerned them–from weight and blood pressure to sugar numbers and cholesterol, or a combination of these issues. (After the 14 days) they were so pleased with the results and how they felt, and the science, that most expressed interest in eating this way going forward!”

Angel and Barbara helping Terri and Christie Jeffries, Pod Leader, packaging the meals they will be eating

Over the course of the Pilot, doctors and educators taught participants how to shop in a grocery store, prepare simple, nutritious meals, and understand the science behind why this lifestyle is optimal for long-term health. “Having tasty food, proper nutrition information and education, and good support was important,” Kim said. ”Our team did an amazing job – label reading, preparing foods together, watching important films – all important resources for continuing success. We also offered each participant a mentor from our Pod for the duration of the program and that was important for compliance and ongoing support.” Kim believes the Oasis Program provided the tools and knowledge that will allow participants to implement and continue their health journey even now that the program has concluded.

It was also a rewarding experience for those participants who helped with the food preparation. Those who worked three-hour stints in the commercial kitchen preparing the meals learned a lot about cooking and developed a deeper appreciation for what was being done for them, claiming there is “a lot of love in this food.” By the end of the program, participants saw significant positive changes.

Chris (middle) is a volunteer, Lisa and Terri are Pod Leaders.

Many experienced large reductions in their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. In addition, most were able to lose weight, while symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and constipation were also diminished or eliminated.

High points of the program include:

LDL (low density lipoprotein – aka ‘bad cholesterol) – 7 participants were able to move from “above optimal/borderline high” (100-159) to “optimal” (below 99) LDL range.

– Blood Pressure (BP) – 3 participants were able to lower BP enough to move a whole category, from hypertension – (above 140/90) to pre-hypertension (120/80 -139/89)

– Fasting Glucose – 4 participants were able to move from high (above 126) to moderate. And 2 “moderate” (110 -125) participants were able to move to “normal” (below 100).

“I am sticking with this! I am so happy with my results. My blood pressure went down. My LDL went from 159 to 110. My

Pod leader Terri Leary on “chop duty”

triglycerides went from 360 to 158. My fasting blood was 186 and is now 123,” said Pat, who is 69 years old. “I feel much, much better. And I haven’t forgotten where my keys are for weeks. I can’t wait to freak out my doctor with these numbers.”

Cheryl was able to bring family members along on her journey. “I am happy because my husband is on board. I lost 5 pounds and he lost 12 pounds!” Cheryl said. “WFPB has helped me with my sugar addiction because now I know other ways to solve it, and I am able to resist it. I am overwhelmed with the results, honestly. My LDL used to be high and now I am 47 and my blood pressure is better, too!”

Luisa is excited to use the techniques and recipes from the program at home with her family. She feels better able to address her needs and is positive about the outlook of her health. “I love how I feel. I have energy and I’m not sluggish. I now realize how important it is to eat WFPB,” Luisa explained. “I plan to stay on this! I lost weight, which has always been hard. I am now completely off my depression meds. I thought I would have to go back on them, but I no longer need them. My kids are already on this too!”

Judy Harff, pod leader, with Angel and Barbara, taken right after they got their end of program blood work results

Jackie is grateful for the education she received through the program. “I learned something different than what my doctors were telling me,” she said. “My glucose improved, I went from 130 average to 100 average over a week. I was not a fan of veggies before but I figured out what I like and don’t like and am more open now. I lost 6 inches on my waist and my blood pressure went from 132/88 to 128/84.”

Many who participated are now eager to get others involved in the WFPB lifestyle. “I am trying to bring friends to the monthly Pod meetings because they need this!” explained Angel. “I am so excited because my triglycerides went from 372 to 272. My energy, mental attitude and motivation have improved. This was a life saver without the medication! It has been transformative to my life.”

Volunteers serving participants & families at the Graduation Potluck

At the end of the program, the organizers from the Powered by Plants Pod hosted a Graduation Potluck meal for all the participants and their families. The experience underscored for them the wide range of delicious foods that can be part of a plant-based diet and reiterated why a community effort makes for lasting change.

Lead organizer Kim is grateful for the support of PPC in making the Oasis Program a reality in their community. “People saw dramatic changes in their wellness, energy level and their bloodwork. We estimate that although the Pilot was limited to 30 people, it is likely that well over 100 lives were permanently changed by this project,” said Kim. “I recently met with Angel and Barbara, pictured above, 10 weeks after the end of the program, and they report having engaged others in their community. They have already brought 5-6 into their WFPB way of eating, including one adult son, who they thought would never go along! They look forward to educating many more. It has been a blessing, they happily shared.” Angel has lost 14 pounds already and cannot wait to be a “poster boy” for the movement. “We are huge fans of the Oasis Program as it offers a structure to democratize the sharing of lifesaving information,” said Kim.

Happy smiles of Edgar with Judy Harff, taken right after they got their end of program blood work results

An underlying tenet of PPC is to get the word out about important scientific nutrition research, much of which was led by T. Colin Campbell, PhD., as detailed in the book “The China Study.” Dr. Campbell serves as an advisor to PPC. Nelson Campbell, the son of Dr. Campbell, and the Oasis Program visionary and founder of PPC, noted, that while food-borne chronic disease is common in the general population, it is more acute in underserved neighborhoods. Our goal is to make sure everyone has access to healthy food and nutrition education, regardless of their background, location or socioeconomic status.”

PlantPure Communities is inspired by Kim’s leadership and the engagement of dozens of volunteers in the Powered By Plants RI Pod. “We want to replicate what this Pod did nationally, and then across the globe,” said Jody Kass, executive director of PlantPure Communities. Over 40,000 people participate in PPC’s growing Pod Network. “People who understand the science and are already eating plant-based desperately want to share it with others who are in pain,” Jody explained.

Volunteers with Chef-ing experience just showed up when asked!

The Providence Jumpstart is one of five Pilots in the first round of PPC’s Oasis program. The others are in Atlanta; Chattanooga; Salinas, CA; and Bullhead City, AZ. PPC expects to conduct a second round of Pilots in low-income communities across the U.S. in 2018. For information about bringing the PPC Oasis Program to your community, see PPC’s website:

This Pilot underscores the truth in the famous quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”





PPC Announces 5 Scholarship Recipients for Fall 2017

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 21, 2017

For Information, contact:

Jody Kass, PPC Executive Director: 704-412-4506 x101



PlantPure Communities today announced the five Pod leaders who are the recipients of scholarships for the renowned Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program offered through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (CNS) and eCornell. These scholarships are being made available via a collaboration between PlantPure Communities (PPC) and CNS, and eligibility was targeted to build the capacity of community leaders carrying out impactful activities in their neighborhoods via the PPC Pod Network. PPC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works to build stronger, healthier, more sustainable communities through a wide range of research, policy and program activities and by working with local nonprofits, governments, businesses, and other health and community-based organizations.

Application eligibility for the second round of scholarships was limited to Group Leaders of Pods that are actively participating in the PlantPure Communities Pod Network. A total of 28 applications were received, out of which 5 exemplary leaders were chosen to receive this scholarship due to the extraordinary work they are doing and plan to do in their communities.

“We are so thankful to CNS for their partnership and for allowing us to offer this exceptional educational resource to our on-the-ground Pod leaders who are bringing the science of plant-based nutrition to their communities,” said Jody Kass, PPC Executive Director. The Pod Network was designed to create and support a grassroots movement by empowering a network of independent local groups and people working to promote the benefits of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle. Over 40,000 people participate in the global PlantPure Communities Pod Network.

“CNS is pleased to support PPC’s efforts to strengthen the Pod Network by offering these educational scholarships to active community leaders helping to share the science-based nutrition and health message. There is so much confusing information out there. It is crucial that this information reaches everyone, and especially those who live in food deserts, low-income, and other underserved neighborhoods where food borne chronic diseases are rampant,” said Jenny Miller, CNS Executive Director.

The scholarship recipients will be bringing this science-based nutrition education back to their communities in San Diego, California; Long Island, New York; Lubbock, Texas; Miami, Florida; and Wellington, New Zealand. Some of the scholarship winners are fluent in Spanish and French, which strengthens their ability to work with diverse and minority communities.

  Karla Vargas, from Lubbock, Texas, has a strong background in social work, having worked with a homeless shelter in San Francisco before moving to Lubbock. Karla is fluent in Spanish and is passionate about working with “communities of color, who statistically suffer the most from poor nutrition,” said Karla. She is working to provide a free plant-based education series to local underserved communities and has found support from local organizations like the Lubbock Health Ministry. Her group, Hub City Veg, is part of the PlantPure Pod Network and is focused on creating partnerships with local businesses to provide more resources to the local community. Karla said, “I have wanted to do this program for a long time now, but have not been able to do so due to financial constraints. I see this scholarship as an investment in my community. Thank you PlantPure, CNS, and eCornell for believing in Lubbock, Texas! We will not let you down.”

Youcef Banouni from Wellington, New Zealand, is a plant-based pioneer, not only supporting and propagating the plant-based movement but he is also an activist blogger and writer. He manages an active Facebook group, Whole Foods Plant Based Kiwis, which is also the name of his PlantPure Pod, with 166 members. Youcef organizes bi-monthly potlucks and has been solicited by media to answer questions on plant-based health. In Youcef’s words, he hopes to use the knowledge gained through the CNS certificate “to effectively reach a large audience with accurate WFPB education, resting on solid credentials.” Youcef said, “I applied for the scholarship to Cornell University’s Plant-Based Nutrition Certification to gain further knowledge and qualifications in plant-based nutrition and health. These will be key to reach out more effectively. This means better helping people to achieve more sustainable health and wellbeing, through a Whole Food Plant-Based dietary lifestyle.”

Mitch Castell from Long Island, New York, has been a very active Pod Leader. Mitch and his Long Island Pod have had a strong partnership with PlantPure Communities, organizing the first PlantPure Communities Pod event. The Long Island Pod holds regular events and one of their last events–Dinner with the Doctor–was featured in a PlantPure Communities Pod news story.  In Mitch’s words: “I applied for the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program to better understand the science behind plant based nutrition and how it may be able to prevent, stabilize and in some cases reverse chronic diseases. I expect to use the information learned to help others understand the overall benefits of eating whole foods plant based, for our health, for the environment and for the animals. I also hope to be able to answer questions with fact-based research.”

Estella Delgado from Miami, Florida, is an expert on plant-based living, running the 3000+ member group, Earthsave, which is part of the PlantPure Pod Network. Estella, together with the leadership team of the Earthsave Pod, holds regular events like Vegan Buffet-Lecture+ and GoVegan Potluck-Demo-Presentation+, in addition to plant-based movie screenings and plant-based training programs. She stated, “I am passionate about plant-based nutrition. Since 2003 I have studied, practiced and experimented, but most importantly I have taught and shared with others. This Certificate Program will add to my knowledge and enable me to expand the scientific and technical aspects of teaching, coaching and practicing as a Raw Food Chef.”

Tracy Childs started the PlantDiego Pod in San Diego, California, spurred by the PlantPure Nation film soon after it was released. Tracy has proven to be a highly effective Pod leader, having organized 91 events in the past couple of years, ranging from potlucks to educational events to movie screenings. Tracy has created a strong foundation for her Pod by generating 8 active team leaders over time. On being awarded the scholarship, Tracy stated, “Our local PlantDiego leadership group is very committed to helping solve food injustice in our community, as well as spreading the idea of plant based nutrition to those who would not otherwise hear it. Having a group leader who is certified in plant-based nutrition with increased knowledge and confidence in the facts supporting the research via the course will be paramount helping us to connect with other leaders within our community.”

Through a continuing partnership with the Center for Nutrition Studies, PPC expects to offer another scholarship opportunity in November 2017. The timeframe and application guidelines for the third and last scholarship round of 2017 will be open to all Group Leaders who are leading Pods as of September 15, 2017. Details will be announced in early November on PPC’s website and to those registered on PPC’s website:

IMPORTANT!! This Scholarship Opportunity is administered exclusively by PlantPure Communities. Any questions about this scholarship opportunity should be directed to PPC at:  For general information about the certificate program (not the scholarship), go to the CNS website at:

Pod Member Scholarship Recipients Find Success with Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate

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September 8, 2017

PlantPure Communities (PPC) awarded ten scholarships in March 2017 for the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program offered from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (CNS) in partnership with eCornell. Since then, the ten Pod members have completed the certificate program and are now implementing the knowledge they gained in their communities.

The Certificate Program offers participants a chance to learn more about the science behind the whole food, plant-based diet, as pioneered by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, in his book, The China Study. The program covers a wide range of information, including much of Dr. Campbell’s own research.

 Leslie Harrison, who is part of the Pod, Eat Healthy Tyler, located in Tyler, TX, said the certificate course has given her a knowledge base of plant-based nutrition that she didn’t have before.  “The course is so full of amazing, practical information,” Leslie said. “It covers such a wide variety of topics and presents the subject matter in an easily digestible format that can be presented in a comprehensive manner to those interested in plant-based nutrition. I really appreciate the opportunity to have taken the course.”

Leslie has already begun bringing what she learned to her Pod events. In particular, the course has made Leslie interested in the industry influence on food policy. She is leading discussions and showing videos to her Pod that will help them understand these connections in more depth.Additionally, Leslie’s 15-year-old son has transformed his eating habits over the last few months. Anticipating backlash from his peers, he created what Leslie calls a “plant-based manifesto”—which outlines the dangers of consuming animal products and the benefits of a plant-based diet (pictured left above). “No teenager wants to feel different, and avoiding meat as a teenage boy in deep East Texas where BBQ is king is a pretty courageous move,” Leslie said proudly.

Darlene Porter, who offers cooking classes through her Pod, Plant-Based Manna-Tobans, located in Sandy Lake, Mannitoba, Canada, believes the Certificate Program adds credibility to her events and allows her to present information in a confident, scientific manner. “Knowing that the information is scientifically correct, not just something found on the Internet, is invaluable,” Darlene said. “Having straight forward facts on protein requirements and the protein content of food is powerful. I find people really responding to the information I have passed on from the class. It makes sense and simplifies what many assumed was complicated.”  

Darlene now includes topics about macronutrients, environmental impacts, and diseases of affluence in the educational portion of her cooking classes, which have been well-received.

This summer, she and her husband also had the opportunity to host young adults from other countries who are interested in sustainable living and the whole food, plant-based lifestyle.

“They help with our organic garden and plant-based cooking,” she explained. “We often watch documentaries and discuss the environmental, health, compassion and spiritual reasons behind the lifestyle. It’s great to be able to share what I’ve learned with others who are open and receptive.” 

It’s evident that the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate program is bringing great value to the Pod Network, which now numbers over 40,000 members.. Whether integrating the information into their Pod communities or witnessing positive changes in family members and themselves, the scholarship recipients have already begun to show just how impactful the science of plant-based nutrition really is on the world.

The 2nd round of scholarships will be awarded the first week of September 2017. PPC will hold a 3rd round scholarship opportunity for group leaders of Pods, which will open in early November. Awards will be made by end of 2017. Eligibility will be limited to group leaders who are leading Pods as of September 15, 2017. PPC is grateful to CNS for their continued partnership and generosity in the scholarship program.