Cummins employees serve community through assistive technology

Dempsey smiling

Dempsey Becker, a five-year-old boy living in Minneapolis, MN (USA), relies on toys for more than just entertainment. 

He uses them as a critical part of his occupational therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation and resource center for individuals with disabilities and complex or chronic medical issues. 

Cummins employees in the Greater Twin Cities have partnered with Courage Kenny since 2006 to adapt, customize and invent both mechanical and electronic devices for children, like Dempsey Becker, and adults with disabilities using broad engineering and technical skills through design work known as assistive technology. 

To date, they have modified more than 7,000 toys and devices for Courage Kenny clients. Last year alone, when they reached a record level of involvement with the center, Cummins employees used their technical skills to modify more than 1,100 toys for children, making the toys more accessible and better matched to their abilities. These toys also serve as therapy enablers, encouraging children to continue developing physical and motor skills when possible. 

Dempsey, who primarily uses a wheelchair, enjoys being transferred to a battery-powered car during therapy sessions. He uses switch activators mounted to its headrest to drive it around the Courage Kenny facility. It’s more than just a thrill ride, though; this gives him practice controlling his head movements and strengthening his neck muscles. His favorite toy is a puppy guitar that was modified with bright lights to accommodate his vision impairment. 

“He lets us know how much fun he’s having by kicking his feet and giving a good belly laugh,” said Dempsey’s mother, Kelly Becker. “He doesn’t realize he’s working; he’s just having fun playing with toys.”

It’s fun for the volunteers, too. Brian Haupt, Cummins Electrification Integration Software Engineer said, “I like volunteering with Courage Kenny since it uses my skills as an engineer and doing things I already enjoy doing. I also like that it is helping people who otherwise can’t achieve the same quality of life without what we provide or contribute.”

“Working in the Adaptive Devices lab is a great activity because it allows me to put problem solving, design and fabrication skills to use,” shared Conor Youngblood Bruce, VPI Service Senior Engineer at Cummins. “There are all kinds of opportunities to make someone’s life easier by creating something unique and simple that can make a difference. Sometimes it’s simple, like a bracket to mount a cellphone to a wheelchair, or sometimes it’s more complicated, like a flexible stylus to make a smartphone easier to use.”

This work expands beyond the Minnesota-based team. They join Cummins colleagues in Dubai, Singapore, and the United Kingdom by sharing assistive technology designs to partner with organizations and serve individuals with disabilities. 

“Our relationship with Courage Kenny is really special,” shared Gary Johansen, Cummins Power Systems Engineering Executive Director. “Through our partnership over nearly 15 years, our employees and the clients and staff at Courage Kenny have shown us what a true community partnership can become when we combine our heads, hearts and hands.”

Kids like Dempsey would agree about the success and strength of this partnership. 

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Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Cummins CEO discusses men's role in achieving gender equality

Mary Chandler moderating a panel with Tom Linebarger and Gary Barker, CEO of Promundo-US

Cummins Powers Women unites leaders and employees around the world in finding solutions to gender inequality in our communities, reinforcing Cummins’ commitment to the advancement of women everywhere. Recently, Cummins Powers Women hosted a town hall for employees featuring Mary Chandler, Vice President – Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility, moderating a panel with Tom Linebarger, Cummins Chairman and CEO, and Gary Barker, CEO of Promundo-US. Their conversation highlighted the importance of lifelong learning for boys and men to progress gender equality.

Promundo-US is a global leader in advancing gender equality and preventing violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women, girls and individuals of all gender identities. Cummins Powers Women partners with the organization in Europe on its Global Boyhood initiative, which involves young boys and their caregivers in after-school programs to address cultural and social norms about masculinity.

Linebarger and Barker shared their personal stories and the significance of gender equality in their lives by chronicling some of their most memorable experiences that have shaped their thinking. Linebarger discussed the urgency of achieving gender equality sooner. 
“Even outside of business, I think we can all agree that gender equity is better for everyone,” Linebarger said. “It’s time to make significant progress and find a solution for all of us to experience gender equity.” 

Their conversation focused on false views of masculinity, societal violence that plagues men and women, non-gender binary company policies for caregiving, and creating healthier forms of masculinity. “All men play a critical role in serving as allies and helping to find the solution for gender equity,” said Barker. “We, as men, live better when we become part of the solution.”  

Top 5 takeaways: 

  • Gender equity benefits everyone. 
  • Men have a place as allies working alongside women to achieve gender equity.
  • Companies with non-gender binary policies have better retention. 
  • Managers should provide a safe space and open conversation for employees who need to take parental leave or provide caregiving.  
  • Everyone plays an equal role in breaking the cycle of gender-based inequities and helping to find a solution for gender equity. 

Cummins Powers women seeks scaled solutions wherever possible by partnering with a network of global nonprofit organizations that have existing, outcome-based programs focused on areas where significant barriers exist to the advancement of girls and women. While this discussion highlighted the importance of lifelong learning for boys and men, the program also focuses on educational attainment, law and policy changes, economic empowerment and personal safety. 

Watch the full event below! 

Chauncey Cox

Chauncey Cox

Chauncey Cox is the Project Manager for Cummins Powers Women. Chauncey joined the Company in 2018 as a Marketing and Communications Specialist.

Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity grant helps Memphis vocational training firm keep pace

OCTI student receives OSHA forklift operation certification

Finding your niche in business is vital to remaining successful. For the last 11 years, Olympic Career Training Institute (OCTI) has done just that. OCTI has solidified its place in Memphis, Tennessee, a major U.S. distribution, logistics, and shipping hub.

The adult vocational school located in Memphis trains employees, so they're ready to hit the ground running, and connects them with employers in the transportation and logistics industry.

"A lot of times, they [employers] would say: 'Train the people before getting them placed on the job,'" said Kim Byrd, co-owner and educational director at OCTI. "Training just kept coming up again and again to the point where we kept saying that's a whole separate function above and beyond the staffing. We realized there was a limited amount of training being offered."

In addition to providing workforce training for adults, OCTI is committed to young people in Memphis. The company has had a partnership with the city for five years through its Office of Youth Services and a contract with Shelby County Schools for its Youth Violence Prevention Program.

Unfortunately, both programs were forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic had a significant impact on the company's contracts and day-to-day business operations. OCTI, like other businesses nationwide, closed its doors in March 2020 and reopened in June 2020. 

But OCTI applied for and was awarded a 2021 CARE (Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity) grant of $20,000. This allowed them to make payroll, pay rent and utilities and more, thereby keeping their doors open for vocational training.

“Black-owned businesses serve an essential role here in Memphis and across the nation,” said Cummins executive, Fernando Herndon. “It is an honor to support small businesses so they can continue the great work they’re doing for communities in the city of Memphis. A special thank you to our partner River City Capital for its contribution to the CARE grant program.”

Cummins Inc.’s CARE initiative seeks to address inequities in areas where it conducts business. Cummins has provided grants to Black-owned businesses in Memphis, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Columbus, Indiana 

"Traditionally in the private sector, it's 'dog eat dog,' it's whatever you kill, you eat,” Byrd said. “The competitive landscape can be quite daunting. To be given assistance coming from the private side, that is quite an anomaly. It's rewarding to know that Cummins thought enough to earmark money specifically for Black businesses."

To learn more about the Olympic Training Institute, visit octitraining.com, or contact OCTI Educational Director Kim Byrd at 901-614-2060, or [email protected]

James Wide - Cummins Inc

James Wide

James Wide is a copywriter and copy editor on the External Communications team at Cummins Inc. He joined the company in 2018. 

Recognizing International Women’s Day and the exponential growth of Cummins Powers Women

International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month offer an annual opportunity for celebrating the achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme, #BreaktheBias, invites us all to understand the impact we can have by breaking the gender bias in our communities, schools and workplaces.

Cummins Inc. has been taking action for gender equality for a long time. Internally, we are working to improve the representation of women at all levels of our company. And we’re extending that same drive and focus to girls and women in our communities through our global program Cummins Powers Women.

Since it launched in 2018, this $22 million commitment (to date) has served 26 million women and girls. Through the efforts of our leaders and employees partnering with expert nonprofits around the world, 32 laws and policies have been changed to improve gender equality. More than 5,500 Cummins employees volunteered almost 12,000 hours last year in support of nonprofits working to engineer solutions to gender inequality.

The program now has nine nonprofit partners in 17 countries focused on the four key drivers of gender equality: 

•    Educational attainment: Grants to the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA), Girls Inc. and Camfed help girls finish secondary school and transition to work, further          education or entrepreneurship.  
•    Economic empowerment: Grants to CARE and China Women’s Development Foundation support women’s legal rights and skills building opportunities to increase their daily wages.  
•    Legal rights: Grants to Rise Up, Global Rights for Women and Rosa Fund support local nonprofit leaders to change laws and policies to protect women and girls.  
•    Personal safety: Grants to Promundo to engage men and boys in promoting gender equality and preventing violence. 

During the week of March 7, Cummins employees and leaders from seven regions are hosting virtual and in-person discussions on gender bias. A variety of leaders, spanning the Cummins Leadership Team, country leadership, plant leaders and site leaders from around the world are sharing their volunteerism in support of women and girls. Additionally, an all-male panel is focusing on the important role men and boys play and how everyone can demonstrate their commitment to gender equality.
 

Anna Lintereur

Anna Lintereur is Chief of Staff and Communications Manager for Corporate Responsibility at Cummins Inc. She joined the company in 2010, serving in a variety of roles including global communications leader for Corporate Responsibility and project manager for the construction of Cummins’ Distribution Business headquarters in Indianapolis. Prior to joining Cummins, she worked for Irwin Financial Corporation for more than 12 years.

Cummins TEC and CARE bring career opportunities to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee

From left: Regent Nisha Powers, member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, TCAT Memphis President Roland Rayner, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Fernando Herndon of Cummins Inc.
From left: Regent Nisha Powers, member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, TCAT Memphis President Roland Rayner, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Fernando Herndon of Cummins Inc.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the median wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $50,200, however that is just the middle of the pay scale. Some heavy-duty technicians make as much as $72,000 to $93,000 per year.

When Cummins Inc. created the Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity (CARE) initiative in 2020, launching new Technical Education for Communities (TEC) workforce development programs in identified U.S. cities was an opportunity to create educational pathways for Black residents to good, living wage jobs in transportation, logistics and other industries.

Last month, Cummins TEC partnered with the Tennessee College for Applied Technology (TCAT) to open a new facility to create technical career opportunities in Memphis, Tennessee. Through CARE, Cummins TEC and TCAT also forged a partnership with McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee to improve pathways for Black youth into prosperous careers in the diesel field.
“Cummins TEC seeks to transform lives through technical vocational education by training disadvantaged youth in employable skills to gain good jobs,” said Tracy Embree, Vice President and President, Cummins Distribution segment. “Cummins and McGavock High School have been partners since 2006, and our employees have volunteered over 5,700 hours supporting the school, including renovating the school’s courtyard, providing tours of Cummins facilities, and offering job shadowing opportunities.”

Cummins and its partners including, Tennessee Trucking Association, Cumberland Trucking, and Velocity Trucking, have provided equipment and tools to the schools’ Diesel Powered Equipment Technology and Automotive programs to enrich the students’ hands-on learning experience.

“Cummins TEC is the first global strategic community program built by Cummins from the ground up. It targets the technical skills gap through local vocational education programs,” said Mary Chandler, Vice President, Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility for Cummins. “The program helps disadvantaged youth around the world secure good jobs through school-based, industry-supported skills training, while delivering a standardized education platform to help school partners develop market-relevant curriculum, teacher training, career guidance and the practical experience needed by students.”

“Now, more than ever, employers continue to struggle to find qualified candidates to fill good paying roles such as diesel engine service technicians,” said Fernando Herndon, Cummins Executive Director, External Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives and CARE Leader. “TEC’s purpose is focused on supporting and advancing communities, and across Tennessee many opportunities exist with companies challenged when it comes to finding, hiring and retaining good talent. We look forward to working together with TCAT, the Tennessee Board of Regents and other industry partners to help provide pathways to good jobs for the students.” 

“Cummins is known worldwide for its general excellence, quality, innovation and great corporate citizenship, and we couldn’t be prouder that the company is launching this tremendous program at our Colleges of Applied Technology in Nashville and Memphis and partnering high schools,” said Flora W. Tydings, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor. “With 10 years of experience in 14 countries around the world, Cummins’ Technical Education for Communities program has proven successful results: more than 2,000 graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds who have learned the skills they need for great jobs, which in turn helps their communities. I know that our partnership and its opportunities for students will have the same success here. On behalf of the Tennessee Board of Regents, I thank Cummins for this generous commitment to our students and our communities.”

Click here to learn more about TEC, and here to learn more about TCAT.

James Wide - Cummins Inc

James Wide

James Wide is a copywriter and copy editor on the External Communications team at Cummins Inc. He joined the company in 2018. 

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