In 2019, the Cummins awarded a grant to Eskenazi Health Foundation to expand the work of the Gregory S. Fehribach Center. The Fehribach Center provides internships, training and support to Indiana college and university students with physical disabilities, empowering them to achieve gainful, equitable and sustainable employment.
“The Gregory S. Fehribach Center is dedicated to increasing the number of college graduates with physical disabilities in the workforce and facilitating their full civic and economic inclusion,” said Ernest Vargo II, CFRE, president and CEO of the Eskenazi Health Foundation. “Eskenazi Health Foundation is exceedingly grateful to the Cummins for supporting this important endeavor, which is unquestionably changing the lives of many great young people for the better.”
Students with physical disabilities remain one of the most marginalized groups with regard to both educational and professional opportunities. The Fehribach Center’s internship program enables students with physical disabilities to build upon their academic knowledge through skill development, networking and other professional competencies, collectively improving their potential in the competitive job market. Interns, who are compensated with market-based hourly wages, work full time for eight weeks. In an effort to reduce the barriers that can often impede the success of an individual with physical disabilities, the program also provides wraparound support, including assistive technology, ADA-compliant housing and transportation services. Following the internship, students are assisted with finding employment with the program’s many employer partners.
“Our communities are enriched and strengthened when more people have the opportunity to participate in the most fundamental building blocks of a prosperous society. Meaningful and sustainable employment should be accessible to all, including those with disabilities. The work of the Fehribach Center makes Indianapolis better,” said Mary Chandler, vice president of Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility at Cummins Inc. and CEO of the Cummins.
In the fall of 2020, the Cummins furthered its support of the Fehribach Center with a matching grant challenge. The challenge letter, signed by Chandler and Bart Peterson, former Indianapolis mayor and Fehribach Center advisory board chair, was delivered to Indiana business leaders with an appeal for help in securing Eskenazi Health Foundation’s $3.5 million campaign. The challenge also served to recruit new employer partners interested in hosting, and potentially hiring, Fehribach Center interns.
To date, more than 90% of former Fehribach Center interns have obtained employment, enrolled in a graduate program or are continuing their undergraduate coursework. This compares to the national employment rate of 19% for students with physical disabilities. At the close of 2020, the program had provided 184 internships since 2013.
Cummins Inc. is a corporation of complementary business segments that serve as a global power leader. Headquartered in Columbus, Ind., since its founding in 1919, Cummins is committed to powering a more prosperous world through three global corporate responsibility priorities critical to healthy communities: education, environment and equality of opportunity. Cummins aims to become an employer of choice for persons with disabilities and is intent on eliminating employment barriers in its communities.