Cummins employees make a difference through ReadUP tutoring program

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Cummins School #27 tutors (left to right) Blair Claflin, Mark Sifferlen and Andre Mitchell
Cummins School #27 tutors (left to right) Blair Claflin, Mark Sifferlen and Andre Mitchell

One of the great things about working at Cummins is how easy the Company makes it to give back to your community. I was reminded of that again with the start of the ReadUP tutoring program this month in the Greater Indianapolis area.

I’m proud to say that for a second year in a row Cummins was honored by the United Way as one of the top 10 corporations in Central Indiana for recruiting ReadUP tutors. I think that’s pretty remarkable considering our two Indianapolis offices are home to fewer than 150 employees.

Sixteen people signed up this year as tutors for the program, which is designed to help children in grades 3 through 5 who need a little boost to reach grade-level literacy and pass Indiana’s standardized achievement test.

The stakes are high. Statistics show that by sixth grade students who aren’t on track with their reading are significantly more likely to drop out. The United Way of Central Indiana says ReadUP students scored 37 percent higher last year on reading comprehension tests than their peers. Reading and education is a focus area for the United Way – not just in Indianapolis, but all across the United States.

Cummins has an advantage when it comes to recruiting tutors. In keeping with our Company’s Corporate Responsibility value to “serve and improve the communities in which we live,” Cummins allows employees to work on community service projects for at least four hours per year on Company time and longer if they have the approval of their supervisors.

Most of our Indianapolis employees are tutoring for an hour every other week. A few are tutoring once every three weeks. Factoring in school breaks and testing days, it all comes out to about three or four hours per employee per school semester.

The tutoring sessions last an hour – 30-minutes per student. The student reads while the tutor periodically asks questions about the book. ReadUP provides question prompts that test a student’s understanding. Finally, students write a three-or-four sentence summary of that day’s session.

Thirty minutes goes really fast. We tutor at the Center for Inquiry at School #27 on Indianapolis’ near Northside and I would say, based on my two years as a tutor, that the overwhelming majority of the students in the program are engaged and eager to learn. I find that I feed off their energy.

But don’t just take my word.

“This is my third year of participating in the program and it has been a truly wonderful experience,” said Andre Mitchell, a Cummins Indirect Purchasing Sourcing Manager. “I look forward to continuing to help children improve.”

Mark Sifferlen, Cummins Vice President of Ethics and Compliance, said he feels like he’s making a difference through ReadUP.

“Reading is so important to a student’s success in school and in life,” Sifferlen said. “It is very gratifying for me to watch these students improve and be part of something that will hopefully have a positive impact on their development.”

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