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Why are Corporate Scholarships Important, and How to Manage them Expertly




We know why you’re here, and we honestly could not be more excited for you. You want to start a corporate scholarship, and we think it’s an excellent decision. Why are corporate scholarships important? Because they are your chance to help foster the education of the workforce of tomorrow. But here’s the dirty little secret no one wants to talk about - running a corporate scholarship program can be a lot of work. Fear not though! In this guide, we’re going to teach you not just about managing corporate scholarships expertly, but also how to do it efficiently. Yep, with less effort and more impact! 

At SmarterSelect we’re passionate about helping people improve their scholarship programs because higher education has become increasingly crucial for individuals to unlock their full potential and contribute to society. At the same time we know that many aspiring students face financial barriers that hinder their educational pursuits. Corporate scholarships like yours can help bridge this gap by providing financial support and creating opportunities for deserving students to access quality education.

What Will You Find in This Guide?

Throughout this guide we’ll delve into various aspects of corporate scholarships, including their role in supporting education, the different types of scholarships offered by corporations, and we’ll share our best tips on establishing and promoting scholarship programs. We’ll also explore how technology can streamline scholarship applications, the benefits of collaboration with educational institutions, and strategies for setting appropriate criteria for scholarship recipients.

That’s not all! We’ll address the challenges faced in administering corporate scholarship programs and provide insights on evaluating the impact of these scholarships as well. Finally, we will explore the importance of building long-term relationships with scholarship recipients to foster a supportive network and contribute to their ongoing success.


Whether you are an HR professional seeking to develop a scholarship program or a seasoned program director that wants help streamlining processes, this guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and expertise needed to navigate managing corporate scholarships.

Ready to dive in? Let’s embark on this corporate scholarship ride!



What Is the Role of Corporate Scholarships in Supporting Education?

In our post The Importance of Corporate Scholarships in Supporting Education, we shared that education plays a vital role in personal growth and career advancement, but the costs associated with higher education often pose a significant barrier for many individuals. The good news is that corporate scholarships have emerged as a solution, bridging the financial gap and providing opportunities for students to pursue further education without the burden of excessive student loans.

Corporate Scholarships Defined

Corporate scholarships are financial awards established by businesses and organizations to support individuals in their educational endeavors. The classification of corporate scholarships comprises two main categories: merit-based and need-based.


Merit-based scholarships recognize outstanding academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, leadership qualities, and specialized skills. 


Need-based scholarships, on the other hand, are awarded to students facing financial hardships.

Corporate scholarships come in various forms, such as general scholarships open to any field of study, industry-specific scholarships for careers in specific sectors, and minority scholarships that aim to promote diversity and inclusivity in higher education and the workforce. These scholarships bring benefits not only to the recipients but also to the corporations offering them. Companies that establish scholarship programs contribute to community building, enhance their reputation, foster talent development, promote workforce diversity, and even enjoy tax benefits.

The rising cost of education has created financial barriers that prevent talented individuals from accessing higher education. In 2023, the importance of corporate scholarships has become even more significant as students seek alternatives amidst debates over student loan forgiveness and increasing inflation. Corporate scholarships address these financial barriers, helping students fulfill their dreams while also enhancing educational opportunities.

Corporate scholarships play a crucial role in fostering diversity and inclusivity. By actively supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds, these scholarships create a more equitable educational environment and ensure that diverse voices and perspectives are represented. They acknowledge and honor students who exhibit outstanding academic accomplishments, leadership abilities, or talents in specific areas.

Scholarships offered by corporations can be considered a form of corporate social responsibility (CSR), where businesses contribute positively to communities and society beyond their core activities. By providing scholarships, companies build a positive brand image and establish partnerships with educational institutions. These collaborations align goals, expertise, and resources to enhance educational experiences, address industry needs, and develop future talent.

The impact of corporate scholarships extends beyond the individual recipients. By empowering individuals to pursue higher education, scholarships increase earning potential, improve career prospects, and promote socioeconomic mobility. Educated individuals bring their knowledge and skills back to their communities, contributing to social and economic development.

While creating corporate scholarships can present challenges such as limited resources, determining eligibility criteria, and reaching deserving students, several strategies can overcome these obstacles. Partnerships with educational institutions, targeted outreach and marketing, streamlined application processes, and mentorship and support programs can maximize the impact of scholarship programs.

Establishing a corporate scholarship may not be suitable for every organization, but software solutions such as SmarterSelect can help manage and execute scholarship programs effectively. These solutions streamline the application, evaluation, and management processes, making it easier for businesses to support education and contribute to their communities.

Corporate scholarships serve as a beacon of hope for students aspiring to pursue higher education. By investing in education, corporations play a crucial role in shaping a brighter future and creating a society where opportunities are accessible to all.



Common Types of Corporate Scholarships


In the world of corporate scholarships, a wide array of opportunities exists to support students in their educational pursuits. Understanding the common types of corporate scholarships is essential for both scholarship providers and aspiring recipients.

Merit-Based Scholarships

As we mentioned in the previous section, merit-based scholarships are awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional performance in their studies, including high grades, impressive standardized test scores, and a track record of academic excellence.

Need-Based Scholarships

Need-based scholarships are specifically awarded to individuals who demonstrate significant financial need, ensuring that deserving students from low-income backgrounds have equal opportunities to access higher education.

Diversity Scholarships

Diversity scholarships aim to foster diversity and inclusion within educational settings and industries. These scholarships play a vital role in promoting representation and diversity within educational institutions and industries, ensuring that talented individuals from all backgrounds have the opportunity to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

Employee Dependent Scholarships

Some corporations offer scholarships specifically designed for the children or dependents of their employees. These scholarships provide financial assistance to support the educational aspirations of employees' family members.

Field of Study Scholarships

Field of study scholarships are tailored to support students pursuing fields of study that are directly relevant to the corporation's industry or sector. For instance, technology companies may offer scholarships to students studying computer science or engineering.

Community Service Scholarships

Community service scholarships aim to honor and support individuals who have demonstrated a deep commitment to making a positive impact on society. Community service scholarships reflect a corporation's commitment to fostering a culture of philanthropy, compassion, and active citizenship.

Leadership Scholarships

Leadership scholarships serve as a testament to the value corporations place on developing and nurturing future leaders. These scholarships are awarded to students who have exhibited exceptional leadership skills, qualities, and a demonstrated potential to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond. Leadership scholarships aim to cultivate a pipeline of future leaders who can inspire others, drive innovation, and make a meaningful impact in their chosen fields, aligning with the corporate goal of building a sustainable and successful future.

Internship Scholarships

Internship scholarships offer a unique opportunity for students to gain both financial support and valuable work experience within a corporation. In these programs, corporations combine scholarships with internship opportunities, creating a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Career-Specific Scholarships

Career-specific scholarships are designed to align with the company's field or sector, aiming to nurture a pipeline of skilled professionals who can contribute to and thrive in that particular industry.

Continuing Education Scholarships

Continuing education scholarships are specifically designed to support employees who aspire to further their education or pursue advanced degrees. Continuing education scholarships not only enable employees to enhance their skills and knowledge, but also equip them with the tools and qualifications needed for career advancement.

It's important to note that the availability and types of corporate scholarships may vary across companies and industries. Each corporation may have its own unique scholarship program with specific eligibility criteria and requirements. Now that you know more about the different types of corporate scholarships that are available, let’s move onto the next section where we’ll explore how to establish a scholarship program and how to promote it.



How to Establish and Promote a Scholarship Program


Corporate scholarship programs have a profound impact on education and corporate social responsibility. To establish and promote a successful corporate scholarship program, follow these essential steps:

1. Set the Foundation:

  •  Assess your corporation's values and objectives.
  • Identify the target students and educational focus for your scholarship.
  • Define the eligibility criteria and program details.

2. Design the Program:

  • Determine the scholarship structure, including funding and distribution.
  • Define application requirements and create a selection rubric.
  • Establish a scholarship committee and consider partnerships with educational institutions.

3. Secure Funding and Resources:

  • Allocate a dedicated budget for the scholarship program.
  • Explore opportunities for securing additional funding through partnerships or fundraising endeavors.
  • Ensure administrative and logistical support for program management.

4. Promote the Program:

  •   Create a comprehensive strategy for marketing and communication.
  • Utilize corporate channels, such as websites, social media, and newsletters.
  • Engage in collaborative efforts with educational institutions and community organizations.

5. Application and Selection Process:

  • Create a user-friendly application system, utilizing software like SmarterSelect.
  • Establish and execute a selection process that is equitable and transparent.
  • Guarantee the privacy and confidentiality of applicant information.

6. Awarding and Supporting Scholars:

  • Notify and celebrate scholarship recipients.
  • Offer continuous support and opportunities for mentorship.
  • Track academic progress and assess the effectiveness of the program.

7. Evaluation and Improvement:

  •  Gather feedback through surveys and community input.
  • Showcase recipients' progress to enhance brand reputation.
  • Continuously improve the scholarship program for future periods.

Want to learn more? Get a deeper understanding of how to establish and promote a corporate scholarship program in this post on our website.



How to Leverage Technology to Streamline Corporate Scholarship Applications


In a recent post on our blog we shared that streamlining corporate scholarship applications through technology can revolutionize scholarship programs, making them more efficient and inclusive. By automating systems and processes, corporations can enhance the application experience for both applicants and organizations. Here's how to leverage technology effectively:

Automate Processes

Use scholarship management software like SmarterSelect to build and launch applications quickly. You can also automate prequalification and application screening to filter eligible candidates efficiently. Finally, enable instant document submission and automate document management.

Benefits of Technology

Just a few of the benefits of technology include:

  • Increased efficiency and reduced administrative burden.
  • Improved accessibility for applicants from diverse backgrounds, and
  • Enhanced transparency and fairness in the selection process.

Utilize Online Application Platforms

You want to look for customizable platforms that align with program requirements and branding. It’s also a good idea to use platforms with robust application tracking and management features. Choose platforms with application screening to streamline eligibility and save time as well.

Streamline Document Management and Verification

Opt for platforms with secure document upload, verification, and storage capabilities. Digital document submission eliminates paperwork and ensures data security.

Automated Communication Tools

Choose platforms with automated communication tools for updates and notifications. For example, personalized messaging such as emails and text messages help to keep applicants informed and engaged.

Automate Your Reporting and Analytics Too!

It’s best to select scholarship management platforms with reporting and analytics capabilities for program evaluation. You’ll save loads of time and energy if you can automatically generate reports, metrics, and insights to improve the scholarship program.

Look for Integration Capabilities

You’ll want to consider platforms that integrate with other systems or services for streamlined workflows. For example, with SmarterSelect you can connect your favorite applications including Trello, Google Sheets, Salesforce, Facebook Pages and more. Learn about all the apps SmarterSelect integrates with here.

User-Friendly Interface

For the sake of both your users and your team, you want to choose platforms with intuitive navigation and clear instructions. The platform you select should also provide resources and support for technical difficulties to enhance the user experience.

Don’t Skimp on Data Security and Privacy

Ensure the platform you choose employs encryption, secure servers, and access controls for data protection. It should also comply with privacy regulations and obtain explicit consent from applicants.

Customer Support and Training are a Must

Seek platforms with comprehensive customer support and training resources. The platform you choose needs to offer technical assistance and responsive helpdesk services for staff and applicants as well.

Overcoming Implementation Challenges

When you’re ready to choose a scholarship management software, be ready to allocate resources for initial investment and ongoing maintenance. Quality programs will provide training and support for staff and applicants. They’ll also continuously monitor and improve the technology infrastructure. Don’t let the tech scare you. Instead, embrace it and all the benefits software solutions bring with them!



How to Collaborate with Educational Institutions for Corporate Scholarships


We’re about halfway through this guide. Let’s keep the education train going! In this section, we’ll explore how to partner up with educational institutions for the betterment of your scholarship programs.

Collaborating with educational institutions is crucial for the success of corporate scholarship programs. By working together, scholarship providers and educational institutions can tap into a diverse pool of qualified applicants, leverage expertise, and enhance program credibility. Here's what you need to know about collaboration:

Why Collaborate at All?

Collaborating allows scholarship providers to access a wider range of qualified students. Educational institutions provide expertise, guidance, and support to enhance the program's impact. Collaboration boosts the credibility and recognition of corporate scholarships.


Roles of Scholarship Providers and Educational Institutions

  • Scholarship providers offer financial support and ongoing mentorship.
  • Educational institutions identify eligible students, promote the program, and provide resources.

Defining Program Criteria and Parameters

Collaboratively establish eligibility criteria and a transparent selection process. It’s important to align the program with the academic requirements of the educational institution. The goal of your program partnership should be to ensure fairness, transparency, and inclusivity in the program.


Work Together on Promoting the Scholarship Program

What does this look like in practice? Develop marketing materials collaboratively to effectively communicate program benefits. Utilize educational institution's channels and networks for wider promotion. Finally, you’ll coordinate outreach campaigns to reach high schools and community organizations.

It’s also a good idea to work with your educational institution partners to develop both your application and selection process. For example, together you can:

  • Coordinate application procedures and establish clear guidelines.
  • Involve both parties in the review and evaluation of applications, and
  • Leverage educational institution's expertise in evaluating academic qualifications

Awarding and Supporting Scholars

Even this can be a fun and exciting element you work on together. You could host an awards ceremony or send a joint newsletter to notify and celebrate scholars together to acknowledge their achievements. Utilize educational institution's resources for scholar support and academic success. It would be beneficial for your corporation to provide mentorship and networking opportunities through the institution as well.

Assessing the Scholarship Program After the Period Ends

The end of a scholarship program period doesn’t have to be the end of your corporation’s partnership with an educational institution. Before the next period begins, there are a few things you should do. 

1. Monitoring and Evaluation

  •  Collaboratively track scholars' progress and assess program effectiveness.
  • Collect feedback from educational institutions and recipients for continuous improvement.

2. Examine Challenges and Communication

  •  Address communication and coordination challenges through clear and consistent communication.
  • Navigate institutional policies and procedures by documenting agreements.
  • Mitigate conflicts and address concerns promptly.

3. Discuss Future Collaboration and Expansion

  •  Explore new collaboration opportunities with educational institutions, organizations, and stakeholders.
  • Leverage emerging technologies and innovative models to streamline processes and enhance engagement.
  • Drive access and equity through targeted outreach and support for underrepresented students.

Collaboration between scholarship providers and educational institutions empowers students, fosters growth, and drives positive change. If you’re not partnering with educational institutions for your scholarship program, you’re missing out on huge opportunities for finding better candidates and creating the best scholarship program possible.



Setting the Criteria for Corporate Scholarship Recipients


Establishing clear and fair selection criteria is crucial for corporate scholarship programs. Criteria ensure fairness, eliminate bias, and align with program goals. Here's what you need to know:

1. Purpose of Criteria

  • Criteria promote fairness and transparency in the selection process.
  • They align with program goals and values.
  • Criteria balance academic excellence, financial need, and other relevant factors.

2. Key Selection Factors

  • Academic Achievement: Evaluate GPA, test scores, academic record, and recognition.
  • Financial Need: Consider family income and financial circumstances.
  • Leadership and Extracurricular Involvement: Assess community service, volunteering, and leadership roles.
  • Personal Statement/Essay: Evaluate clarity, writing skills, motivations, and goals.

3. Defining Specific Criteria

  • Assign appropriate weightage and prioritize factors based on importance.
  • Establish clear guidelines and expectations for each criterion.
  • Maintain flexibility to accommodate diverse applicant backgrounds and strengths.

4. Assessing Eligibility and Qualifications

  • Set minimum requirements and thresholds for eligibility.
  • Adopt a holistic evaluation approach, considering multiple factors.
  • Ensure inclusivity by recognizing diverse experiences and backgrounds.

5. Developing a Scoring System

  •  Assign point values or ratings to each factor for objective evaluation.
  • Create a rubric or evaluation framework for consistency.
  • Train evaluators to apply the scoring system effectively.

6. Ensuring Fairness and Mitigating Bias

  • Implement blind or anonymous evaluation processes.
  • Provide implicit bias training for evaluators.
  • Establish oversight and review mechanisms for accountability.

7. Transparency and Communication

  • Clearly communicate selection criteria to applicants.
  • Explain the evaluation process and timeline.
  • Provide feedback to applicants when possible.

8. Continuous Evaluation and Program Improvement

  • Regularly review and update selection criteria.
  • Analyze program outcomes and impact.
  • Seek feedback from recipients, evaluators, and stakeholders.

Setting clear and fair selection criteria is essential to choose deserving recipients for corporate scholarships. It ensures fairness, transparency, and an equitable evaluation process. SmarterSelect can assist you with all steps, from creating applications to selecting recipients.



Overcoming the Challenges in Administering Corporate Scholarship Programs


Administering corporate scholarship programs can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can overcome these obstacles. We shared how you can overcome these challenges in a recent blog post, but below are the most important things you need to know.

Streamlining Application Processes

It’s a good idea to utilize scholarship management software like SmarterSelect to create and filter online applications efficiently. You’ll also want to implement automated screening tools to manage the high volume of applications and save time. Make sure you develop clear and user-friendly application guidelines to help applicants navigate the process easily as well.

Ensuring Fair and Transparent Selection

Establish comprehensive and well-defined selection criteria that align with program goals. It’s important to communicate the criteria clearly to all stakeholders - from donors to candidates and everyone in between. Train evaluators to minimize bias and ensure consistent evaluation. Be sure to implement blind or anonymous evaluation processes to prevent bias based on personal characteristics too.

Building Strong Communication Channels

Your corporate scholarships should establish clear lines of communication with applicants and recipients. Provide easily accessible contact information and channels for inquiries and support. It’s a good idea to give candidates timely updates and notifications to keep applicants and recipients informed as well.

Provide Ongoing Support

You might want to consider pairing recipients with experienced mentors to offer guidance and support. Connect recipients with resources for academic and career success. Finally, monitor the progress of recipients and provide assistance when needed. Not only will this help you gain valuable feedback, but it can enhance your scholarship’s reputation.

Program Evaluation and Impact Assessment

Collect and analyze data on program outcomes and effectiveness. Track metrics such as graduation rates, academic achievements, and career trajectories. Seek feedback from recipients, corporate partners, and educational institutions. Use insights to make informed decisions and enhance the program as well.

Collaboration and Partnerships Help Enhance Your Scholarship

You might want to consider collaborating with educational institutions for support and expertise. It’s a good idea to form partnerships with other organizations as well to enhance resources and reach. Ask your employees to act as volunteers or mentors in the program as well to capitalize on all the resources available to you and improve the scholarship’s impact overall.

Addressing Financial Sustainability

Identify and secure long-term funding sources through partnerships or endowments. Explore partnerships with other corporations or foundations for additional funding opportunities. Implement fundraising efforts to sustain the program over time as well.

Staff Training and Development

While working on your corporate scholarships, be sure to provide comprehensive training for program administrators on best practices. Keep staff updated on scholarship policies and regulations. Finally, be sure to foster a culture of continuous improvement and learning within the organization.

By implementing these strategies and utilizing scholarship management software, you can overcome the challenges in administering corporate scholarship programs effectively.



How to Evaluate the Impact of Corporate Scholarships


Evaluating the impact of corporate scholarships is crucial for determining their effectiveness and ensuring they achieve their intended goals. Here are six strategies to evaluate corporate scholarships:


1. Establish Clear Objectives and Outcomes:

  • Define desired outcomes and goals of the scholarship program.
  • Set specific metrics and indicators for measuring impact.
  • Align objectives with the corporate mission and values.

2. Collect Quantitative Data:

  • Track academic performance, graduation rates, and progress of recipients.
  • Analyze retention and completion rates.
  • Gather data on career outcomes and post-graduation success.

3. Gather Qualitative Feedback:

  • Conduct surveys, interviews, or focus groups with recipients.
  • Obtain feedback on personal and professional development.
  • Capture narratives and success stories from recipients.

4. Engage Stakeholders:

  • Collect feedback from educational institutions, scholarship providers, and program administrators.
  • Seek input from mentors or employers involved with the recipients.
  • Involve scholarship recipients in the evaluation process.

5. Compare with Control Groups or Benchmarks:

  • Establish control groups or benchmarks for comparison.
  • Compare outcomes of scholarship recipients with similar non-recipients.
  • Evaluate the incremental impact of the scholarship program.

6. Analyze Cost-effectiveness and Return on Investment:

  • Assess the financial resources invested in the program.
  • Compare costs with achieved outcomes and impact.
  • Determine the return on investment (ROI) and cost-effectiveness of the program.

Regularly evaluating the impact of corporate scholarships allows corporations to identify areas for improvement, make informed decisions, and demonstrate the value of their programs to stakeholders. .



How to Build Long Term Relationships with Corporate Scholarship Recipients

To enhance the impact of your corporate scholarship program, it's crucial to build long-term relationships with recipients. We covered this a little deeper in a recent article on our website, but for now, here are eight key elements for successful relationship building:

  • Mentorship and Support: Offer ongoing guidance and practical advice to recipients, helping them navigate challenges and accelerate their personal and professional growth.
  • Establishing Communication Channels: Regularly engage with recipients through various channels, fostering open dialogue and providing updates and information related to their field of study.
  • Alumni Engagement and Networking Opportunities: Facilitate connections among past and current recipients, organizing networking events and alumni gatherings to encourage collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and professional networking.
  • Providing Career Development Resources: Offer career counseling, job placement assistance, access to internships, co-op programs, and professional development workshops to support recipients in achieving their career goals.


  • Continuing Financial Support: Consider renewable scholarships, additional grants for advanced studies, or paid internship opportunities to alleviate financial constraints and promote recipients' ongoing academic pursuits.
  • Celebrating Achievements and Milestones: Recognize recipients' accomplishments through awards, certificates, public recognition, and sharing success stories to motivate and inspire others.
  • Seeking Feedback and Continuous Improvement: Actively solicit feedback from recipients to assess program effectiveness and incorporate their suggestions for enhancement, ensuring the program meets evolving needs.
  • Collaborating with Corporate Partners: Engage corporate partners in mentoring, professional development, and employment opportunities, leveraging their expertise and networks to benefit recipients.



By implementing these elements, scholarship providers can establish meaningful connections with recipients, foster their long-term success, and maximize the overall impact of the scholarship program.

If you haven't prioritized building relationships with your scholarship recipients, now is the time to start. Reach out to past recipients, foster genuine connections, and assess how you can improve your program.



Wrapping Things Up - A Quick Recap of All We’ve Covered

We’ve covered a lot in this guide, so here’s a quick recap of everything you need to know about corporate scholarships including why they are important, and how to manage them expertly:

Corporate scholarships play a vital role in supporting education and providing opportunities for students to pursue their academic and career goals. Understanding the various types of corporate scholarships, such as merit-based, need-based, diversity, and career-specific scholarships, allows corporations to align their support with their values and industry objectives.

To establish and promote a successful scholarship program, it is crucial to leverage technology for streamlining the application process. Platforms like SmarterSelect offer efficient tools for managing applications, automating screening processes, ensuring fairness and transparency in the selection process, and so much more.


Collaborating with educational institutions is another key aspect of corporate scholarships. Partnering with schools, colleges, and universities allows for a deeper understanding of the educational landscape and provides access to academic resources. This collaboration can streamline processes and enhance the program's reach and impact.

Setting clear criteria for scholarship recipients is essential to ensure fairness and align with program goals. Whether based on academic achievements, financial need, leadership qualities, or field of study, well-defined criteria help identify deserving candidates who will benefit most from the scholarship program.

Administering a corporate scholarship program comes with its challenges, such as managing a large volume of applications, ensuring fairness in selection, providing ongoing support to recipients, and evaluating program outcomes. Overcoming these challenges requires efficient application processes, establishing clear communication channels, offering mentorship and ongoing support, and implementing evaluation strategies to measure the impact of the scholarships.

Building long-term relationships with scholarship recipients is a critical aspect of maximizing the program's impact. Mentorship, effective communication, alumni engagement, career development resources, and continuing financial support are key elements for fostering strong connections. Celebrating recipients' achievements, seeking feedback, and collaborating with corporate partners further contribute to their success.

To simplify the management of corporate scholarships and enhance relationship-building efforts, SmarterSelect offers scholarship management software. With features designed to streamline all aspects of a corporate scholarship program, SmarterSelect empowers scholarship providers to focus on creating a lasting impact for recipients.

Start maximizing the impact of your corporate scholarship program today. Schedule a demo with SmarterSelect, and discover how our software can make managing your scholarships easier, allowing you to build meaningful relationships and transform lives through education.


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