Cummins' CARE initiative celebrates one-year of community impact

Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee is known for its live music, great food and all-night parties. In the heart of Beale Street is the SugaShack, a hot spot for live entertainment and food. The Suga Shack began as a Friday and Saturday night club in a Memphis café in 2014. By 2018, the SugaShack had outgrown hosting weekend concerts, so veteran Memphis entertainer and SugaShack owner Larry Springfield leased a long-vacant building on Beale. Springfield opened the soul food and soul music club to highlight Memphis’ authentic soul music, not just blues.

The COVID-19 pandemic silenced live music and public dining across the world, and the SugaShack was no exception; in fact, as a small business, the SugaShack was hit exceptionally hard. When doors slowly opened to music and dining, the SugaShack was ready, however, the return has been slow, as tourists travel cautiously. The SugaShack needed some help, or the soul music venue would be singing the blues, and a one more venue for entertainers to showcase their talents would be lost.

Thanks to a grant from Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity (CARE), the music keeps playing, and the SugaShack continues to provide live performances and Southern cookin’ in the heart of Memphis.

In just one year, $21 million has been invested into communities to address economic empowerment, criminal justice reform, police reform and social justice; this includes $3.75 million in grants and forgivable loans given directly to over 300 Black-owned businesses. Thirty-five partners have helped deploy these needed resources over five states. Additionally, there have been eight law and policy changes, as a result of the 16 advocacy efforts CARE has participated in. Finally, the CARE initiative has assembled an army of employee volunteers across 33 locations to drive a sustainable impact in dismantling institutional racism and creating system equity.
“We are proud of the accomplishments and strides CARE has made in its first year, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Fernando Herndon, Executive Director, External Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. “CARE was created as Cummins’ action to undo systemic discrimination against the Black community in the U.S., and by focusing our efforts and resources in police reform, criminal justice reform, economic empowerment and social justice reform, we believe Cummins’ CARE initiative will have a real and lasting impact in creating racial equity.”

Highlights

  • Cummins committed $250,000 towards an Indianapolis Urban League initiative to invest in Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, in partnership with Eli Lili and Company
  • Cummins committed $500,000 to Coalition to Back Black Businesses, providing grants and technical assistance to Black-owned enterprises
  • Cummins Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, John Gaidoo co-led the legal Structural Reform Team that was charged by the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee to produce and release a report entitled, Police Reform: Equal Treatment of Black Americans. The report makes recommendations on the most critical police reforms needed
  • Cummins partnered with television and radio station WFYI (NPR) to expand local coverage of criminal justice
  • Cummins committed $30,000 to Juvenile Intervention and Faith-based Follow-up (JIFF), a non-profit that provides mentoring resources for juveniles in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Cummins awarded $26,000 in grants to Black entrepreneurs through sponsoring the Nashville Entrepreneur Center Pitch Competition Black Founders Edition
  • Cummins led and/or influenced eight policy changes: two use of force protocols, two training and certification, one duty to intervene, one General Orders Board and one to the use of body cameras

The Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Minneapolis, Minnesota), River City Capital Investment (Memphis, Tennessee), Local Initiatives Support Corporation in partnership with the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce (Indianapolis, Indiana), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce (Columbus, Indiana) disbursed $3 million to Black-owned businesses in their respective communities, to aid those businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After an explosive launch, the inaugural year of the CARE initiative has been a success and should be celebrated, but there is still much work to be done. CARE will continue to focus in U.S. cities where Cummins has a large presence, and will use data and impact assessment tools to target systems and projects yielding the greatest impact in achieving equity for the Black community. Currently, the workstream leaders are evaluating the impact of their efforts and planning their next phase in dismantling systemic racism. 

Current initiatives

Economic Empowerment

Working in Detroit and its surrounding communities to help close the gap in access to resources for many Black-owned businesses.

Social Justice Reform

Addressing food deserts and food insecurity in Indianapolis, Indiana; Jamestown, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Criminal Justice Reform

Partnering with The Bail Project to support to the work being accomplished toward eliminating cash bail via grant funding and advocacy.

Police Reform

Promoting use of mental health resources to reduce the likelihood of escalation to violence in police interactions.


As a company, Cummins has a long history of fighting for social justice dating back to endorsing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite legislation providing equal access, attitudes and policies undermining equal access are at the root of the racial gaps that plague the U.S. In addition to CARE being another opportunity for the company to extend its values outside of Cummins, this is the largest effort to combat racism. 

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. 

Building Inclusive Communities with Sign Language

employees showing sign language

Sign languages have the power to unite us. Did you know that there are more than 70 million deaf or hard-of-hearing people worldwide that collectively use more than 300 different sign languages*? International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL), celebrated every September 23, was designated as a day to raise awareness about the global importance of all the many different sign languages - a mode of communication for the deaf. IDSL was first celebrated in 2018 as part of International Week of the Deaf, which has now evolved into a global movement of unity and advocacy to shed light on the issues deaf people face every day.

The observance of IDSL presents a distinct opportunity to support and highlight the richly diverse linguistic landscapes and culture of the deaf community along with others who use sign language to communicate. Through understanding the intersectionality of the deaf community, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us to create more inclusive work environments and the communities in which we live. 

At Cummins Inc., inclusive environments enable us to operate better across cultures, functions and languages to solve challenges and gain opportunities globally. One way we can foster more inclusive environments is by increasing accessibility for our employees. In order for Cummins to continue creating inclusive policies and ensuring accessibility adjustments, it is beneficial to know the magnitude of need. Voluntary self-identification (where applicable), is vital for providing us this data on the composition of our workforce for those with disabilities and other dimensions of diversity. 

As we strive to become an employer of choice for people with disabilities and impact communities by removing barriers to employment, there are a number of simple ways in which you can support this observance by educating yourself to become a better colleague, friend and/or ally. Together, we can spread awareness on the significant impact of sign languages and build stronger communities that are respectful and inclusive of all deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

*Statistic provided by United Nations and World Federation of the Deaf
Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins and Grammer Industries recognize National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

white semi with blue Grammer logo

The following article was authored by Amy R. Boerger, Cummins Vice President, Sales, Engine Segment and Shorty Whittington, Founder, Grammer Industries; Former Chairman of the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Executive Committee of the Board of Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA).


Sept. 11 – 17 is designated as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. The trucking industry and its workers are critical to the U.S. economy. Nearly 8 million people are employed in trucking-related careers, including 3.6 million professional drivers. Most goods consumed in the U.S. are put on a truck at some point. In fact, the trucking industry hauled 70% of all freight transported in the United States in 2020, equating to 11.84 billion tons. 80% of communities – cities and towns large and small, across the United States receive all their goods from trucks. 

Before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic, professional truck drivers take on a heroic role by delivering the essential goods to our country. The sacrifices that professional drivers continue to make to help carry the nation through the pandemic must never be understated. 

On behalf of Cummins Inc., the global leader in power technology solutions, and Grammer Industries, a leading fleet and innovator in the trucking industry; we want to thank each truck driver for their commitment to one of the most demanding and important careers to our U.S. economy. Make sure you are appreciating their contributions as you walk through the grocery store, sit at your local restaurant or use supplies at your workplace. Nearly all these items you are accessing were transported there in a truck. We depend on truck drivers every day.

We are joining companies like ours to make every effort to appreciate and recognize truck drivers each day, not just this week. We are doing this by continuing to make technological and safety advancements, creating better work environments (including work-life balance), and providing drivers with the tools to help them perform their jobs more safely, effectively, efficiently, comfortably, and successfully. 

We need more drivers to help businesses like ours succeed and move the economy forward.  According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), there is a shortage of more than 80,000 drivers, and that number is expected to reach 175,000 by 2024, and 1.1 million new drivers will need to be hired in the next decade to keep up with the current industry demand. Cummins recognizes the importance of this issue, which is why we have been working with the ATA and other groups to address the driver shortage. For the U.S., a truck driver shortage could negatively impact consumers from higher costs associated with product delivery, to longer delays in receiving products to your home, local grocery or pharmacy.

We can all help by highlighting the innovations in today’s trucks and in the truck driving profession. From the engine and transmission, to the seats and sleepers, today’s trucks are state-of-the-art vehicles meeting stringent emissions and fuel economy standards, while still providing an enjoyable experience for drivers. We continue to move to automated transmissions in heavy-duty trucks, delivering improved fuel efficiency, performance and uptime. 

We also are focused on comfort and safety for our drivers, with technologies in production like adaptive cruise control, lane departure technologies, forward and backward facing cameras, and additional improvements to make it easier for the drivers to do their work each day. We are also working to expand the ability for drivers to identify open parking spots to ensure they can plan and execute their hours of service. For example, on highways like Interstate 65, you will see signs that show available parking spots within the next 30-60 miles. We are committed to developing and implementing new technologies to improve the ability of our truck drivers to work and stay safe and comfortable while doing so. 

On behalf of Cummins and Grammer Industries, we want to say thanks to all drivers for the work they do each day, and their immeasurable contributions to our lives and the economy. They are our daily heroes who keep America moving forward. Truck drivers enable us to have access to the everyday items each of us rely on and their contributions should not be overlooked but recognized and praised publicly. 

 

Amy Boerger

Amy Boerger is the Vice President of Sales, Engine Business at Cummins Inc., the largest independent maker of diesel engines and related products in the world. In this role, she leads the North America sales team and manages our relationship with many critical OEMs. During her tenure at Cummins which began in 1984, she has worked in sales and service in the field, engineering, marketing communications, the Emissions Solutions business and has led sales regionally within the company.

Business Analyst Chris Scott always felt called to give back

employee fixing his DJ soundboard

Chris Scott lives with a higher purpose than self. As a Business Information Systems student at Tennessee State University (TSU), Chris served as a University Ambassador mentor and volunteered at his local Boys and Girls Club. He has long felt a calling to give back, to minority groups in particular. So, when he graduated, Chris planned to interview prospective employers that placed as much value on giving back as he did. When he attended the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Day at TSU and interviewed with Cummins Inc., he found such a place.

“The [Cummins] core values aligned with my personal values around diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), teamwork and caring,” Chris says.

And I’ve found in my short time here so far that we actually do hold up those values. It’s not just a marketing gimmick. I see it every day.”

Today, Chris is a Business Analyst for the Cummins CIO Workforce Strategy team. He’s responsible for internal operations like creating, defining and reporting workplace analytics, and also, for recruiting. He’ll analyze how many people work in the IT department, for example, and determine how to improve that number.

He also figures out how to find more candidates at HBCUs like his to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at Cummins. “I work on professional recruiting, too,” he says, “and part of that is recruiting veterans and other minority groups who maybe don’t have a college degree but have the experience necessary to fill positions. I’m proud to provide everything interns and new hires need for a successful experience at Cummins.”

Chris uses his own onboarding experience as a template for the ideal new hire experience. From day one at Cummins, he was impressed with his manager and the pace at which she brought him up to speed.

“I thought it would be hard to transition from college to the corporate world, but she made it easy and provided immediate learning and growth opportunities for me,” he says. “She really cared about our success and introduced me to the Cummins Black Network and Toastmasters.”

The Cummins Black Network (CBN) is one of many Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, within Cummins that help create a company-wide community by connecting employees with similar interests or backgrounds. “It’s an easy way for the company to promote and encourage DEI,” says Chris.

It’s also an easy way for Chris — a former high school and college marching band member who plays drums, brass horns and guitar — to connect with fellow musicians. Within CBN, Chris sits on the Music and Technical Committees and is a CBN Mentoring Circle Host. As a Music Committee member, he gets to DJ and provides backup playlists for “First Friday,” an internal networking event that he says, is a great way to celebrate Black culture and his personal passion for music.

As a CBN Mentoring Circle Host, Chris mentors peers and networks with Cummins leaders. His circle consists of nine employees, and as the Circle Host, he is responsible for creating a collaborative space, establishing a meeting cadence and monitoring attendance. “This program is helping me develop my leadership and networking skills,” he says.

Chris admits that one of his biggest challenges is public speaking, so being encouraged to join things like Toastmasters and becoming a Mentoring Circle Host have really helped him step out of his comfort zone and grow as a professional.
“My written communication is great, but I tend to be challenged when it comes to communicating verbally. I have been trying to overcome this since middle school,” Chris says.

“I’ve improved by forcing myself into positions that require me to exercise the skill. Although I’m better now, there’s still room for improvement. I believe practicing and getting feedback is the best strategy for overcoming this challenge.”

Somehow, Chris has grasped at the young age of 22 what some of us never do; that every failure is a step toward success.

“[Failure] inspires me to be a continuous learner and a risk-taker. I’ve been at Cummins five months and have failed a lot, but I’ve always been able to recover.”

One thing he wishes he had done differently at the beginning was to reach out for help more. He mentions a time when he needed help but was too embarrassed to ask and make a fool of himself as someone so new to the team. He soon realized, however, that “people are here to help at Cummins. You don’t have to know everything. No one does. We all learn.”

As an employee, Chris takes full advantage of the opportunity for continued education and learning through Percipio boot camps and training at Cummins. “When my manager showed me those, I was blown away. We can get certification for free? This is great! I really enjoy those trainings.”

As a recruiter, Chris talks to candidates about the fact that he is still learning, and reminds them that, “you don't have to have all of the skills listed in a job description, just 30%. So long as you have that 30%, Cummins can teach you the rest and make you successful.”

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Mayowa Alonge has his eyes set on the future

Mayowa's photo shown in front of a red background

Mayowa Alonge has his eyes set on the future. A native Nigerian, Mayowa realized early the role human exploration can play in impacting the environment. “I was looking to contribute, to create a movement, to make progress in that area, and I dedicated my life, my career to making advancement safer for future generations,” he said.

In college, Alonge gained research experience developing an eco-friendly battery. That research landed him a six-month internship with Cummins Inc., which he knew of from their office in Lagos, Nigeria. What impressed Alonge most about Cummins was “their foresight to transition almost all of their products into renewable energy,” he says. “This aligned with my personal and career goals.”

Cummins recruited Alonge at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) conference in 2019 during his Master’s degree program. He was offered a full-time position in their New Power segment in Talent, Oregon, where he currently works as a Systems Engineer in battery development.

In addition to their sustainability efforts, the community Cummins builds has also resonated with Alonge. He has found Cummins to be an environment where everyone looks out for each other’s safety, as well as the safety of the end-user of the products. This is important to him; as is the company’s focus on work-life balance, diversity, team bonding and coming to work happy.

“I joined the team in the middle of a pandemic and moved from Texas to Oregon,” he says. “I felt welcomed. The team bonding was seamless. I think this is the best group of people I have ever worked with in my life.”

He points out that when he joined Cummins’ team in Talent, he was the only Black person in the building, “And I felt welcomed, like, literally,” he says. “Now we have four Black people on the team. The culture of acceptance is there, from the top down. They respect people regardless of color, sexual orientation, or anything. I’ve never seen any company as diverse as Cummins since being in the U.S. You know you are welcome.”

What makes Alonge happiest at work, however, is the freedom to think creatively and explore new tools. The lack of rigidity around doing work a certain way inspires him to bring his A-game to work every day.

“The leadership team I work with trusts me with the responsibility of coming up with design experiments for different products to test and validate the components to be sure that product is good for use,” he says. “Even with me joining the team recently and being a new employee, their trust gives me a lot of confidence to explore so many things in terms of ‘how do we do this in a better way? What do we need to do?’” With that confidence, Alonge has helped launch products that are already on the market, plus several more that are on the way.

Next, he has his sights set on the advent of lithium iron phosphates, or lithium metals. He believes that battery technology is the future and that if we can reduce the thermal runaway in batteries, they will become an invaluable resource for protecting tomorrow.

In his own little way, he says he’s trying to contribute to the reduction in pollution, which makes him feel accomplished as a person every day.

“People my age realize that the future is right in front of us, and if we don’t take drastic measures to prevent pollution, a lot of us would be sick,” he says. “You must be in that space where you’re working with companies that see the future and actually want to prevent bad things. People who have kids–and one day, I‘ll have kids–we don’t want to put them in an environment where they ask us, ‘Why didn’t you do something about it?’”

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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