Cummins Employees in China Inspire Rural Students Through Books

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Students and adults celebrate at one of the 100 libraries established by Cummins across China in conjunction with The Library Project. Cummins entities across the country have donated 90,000 books as part of the effort. 

Posted: October 2014

Sunzhuang Elementary School Principal Wenfang Tian says she believes The Cummins Library established at her school in 2013 will help students in two critical ways.

The books, furniture and equipment donated by the Company and its employees to the school in Xiang’yang city will help students acquire the reading skills they need to be successful in life, she said.

But Tian also hopes her students will be inspired by the concepts of community service and global involvement rooted in the project, the 100th such library established by Cummins in China in partnership with The Library Project, a not for-profit organization devoted to establishing libraries in rural and under-served elementary schools and orphanages.

“Education is key to our nation’s future and I believe these books, as well as the corporate citizenship example Cummins demonstrated, will not only improve kids’ extracurricular reading, but also inspire them and help them explore in the sea of knowledge outside the classroom,” Tian said.

Since the initiative started five years ago, various Cummins entities across China have donated more than $250,000, providing some 90,000 books as well as furnishings and more to primarily rural schools in China. The schools serve about 50,000 low-income students.

The Cummins Library Project provides two kinds of help to schools, establishing either reading rooms in available space or making book donations to existing libraries, said Zhang Hongjie, Corporate Responsibility Leader for Cummins China.

“Reading rooms are donated to a school that has an empty room that can act as a library,” he said. “That room is then filled with children’s books, bookshelves, tables and chairs. Book donations are provided to schools that have tables, chairs and book shelves, but not enough quality children’s books for children to read.”

The partnership started when Cummins employees in Xi’an, China, began working with Tom Stader, an American who was living in Dalian, China, to establish a library in rural Shaanxi, China. Stader had established two earlier libraries working with some friends.

The collaboration between Stader and Cummins demonstrated what was possible if a company’s employees were engaged to take an active role in creating a library. Cummins China donated $50,000 to Stader’s charitable organization and the effort quickly took off.

Since 2006, The Library Project, Stader’s organization, has put more than 500,000 children’s books into the hands of over 315,000 young readers in China. Cummins is one of several corporate sponsors, which also include Land Rover, Jaguar, Pratt & Whitney, Siemens, and United Technologies.

“Cummins has an incredible team in China that is very dedicated to improving the education that students are receiving in rural primary schools,” said Stader, whose organization expanded into Vietnam in 2013.

Cummins Employees in China Inspire Rural Students Through Books_4Hongjie said about 80 percent of the libraries donated by Cummins and its employees have been located in rural China and each school has faced financial challenges that made it difficult to purchase quality children’s books.

“Normally, these schools have an average number of books under 10 for each student, most of the time much less than 10,” he said. “Each school is also financially incapable of purchasing books by themselves.”

Education is one of Cummins’ key corporate responsibility focus areas along with the environment and social justice. Leaders and employees, alike, say they feel good about making a difference in such an important area.

“As a local resident and a member of this community, I am extremely proud to be a part of Cummins, and to witness the establishment of the 100th library in Xiang’yang city,” said Dongfeng Cummins General Manager Wang Ning in his opening speech at a ceremony dedicating the latest library. The engine plant is located in Xiang’yang.

“Since our first Cummins library in 2008, over 8,000 Cummins employees across the nation have been dedicated to improving students’ educational environment through a variety of meaningful projects like this,” he said.

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