PALOMA LOPES FOUND JUST THE SPOT FOR HER SCHOOL'S TOMATO PLANT.
The ground needs work, but with time and care it will bear fruit. Her neighborhood is not so different. With Cummins’ support, the community’s once rough and barren areas are now blossoming with new opportunity.
In 2015, Cummins partnered with González Bocanegra Elementary School near the company’s operations in San Luis Potosí, Mexico to develop an onsite garden for its 260 students. There, while tending the produce, company employees like Ary J. Loredo, an Accounts Payable Analyst for CBS Mexico, taught Lopez and her peers about environmental stewardship.
The activity was just one component of Cummins’ “neighborhood approach” in La Pila, the community where the school is located.
“I see a great benefit from Cummins’ partnership with our school,” said Arturo Jaramillo, a teacher at Bocanegra Elementary. “They are teaching us to work in an organized way, consider risks when implementing ideas and helping kids think and act.”
Jaramillo, however, doesn’t give himself enough credit. After all, it was his own “act” that led to Cummins’ partnership with Bocanegra and broader interest in La Pila.
In 2013, Cummins had around 500 community events taking place across San Luis Potosí. Although each had value, company leaders could not tell if any were creating a lasting, measurable difference. Accordingly, leaders chose to focus employees’ engagement in a community that had much to gain from their skills, time and resources. They just had to find the right one.
Working with graduate students from the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Cummins teams analyzed neighborhoods lagging in education, environmental protection and employment. With middle school dropout rates around 50 percent, streets littered with trash and 33 percent of residents stuck in poverty, La Pila was at the top of their list. That’s when Cummins employees heard about Jaramillo.
The Bocanegra Elementary teacher contacted Cummins to see if the company would consider supporting his school. Employees – already preparing to meet with La Pila stakeholders following the Universidad assessment – added Jaramillo to their list of appointments.
“In Arturo Jaramillo and other La Pila leaders, we found a community not content with the status quo,” said Andrea Villegas, a Product Engineer in Cummins’ Engine Business who sponsored her team’s engagement in La Pila. “Upon seeing their passion for change and interest in something greater, we knew La Pila was the place where Cummins employees could make a measurable impact.”
And so the company’s neighborhood approach began, with Cummins establishing long-term goals to increase La Pila students’ enrollment in higher education, encourage greater environmental care among residents and develop opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. Those goals ultimately led to such projects as Bocanegra’s organic garden and other forms of cultivation.
For example, in 2015, 48 participants from nine La Pila schools participated in the LISTO Transformational Leadership Program to improve students’ academic performance levels. Cummins brought LISTO’s operator, the nonprofit Worldfund, and theSan Luis Potosí Ministry of Education together to implement coaching workshops across La Pila’s schools.