Gimaajiigimin (We Are Growing): Enhancing Capacity in Early Childhood Education Programming

Apr 2, 2024 | Blog, IECE - Indigenous Early Childhood Education, Our Programs

By Ashley Hebert, Early Childhood Education Department Chair, KBOCC

2023-2024 Ihduwiyayapi: Advancing Indigenous Early Childhood Education Grant Program

In the summer of 2023, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC) received an exciting opportunity to enhance its early childhood education program. Thanks to the support of the American Indian College Fund, KBOCC was awarded the Ihduwiyayapi: Advancing Indigenous Early Childhood Education grant. This grant aimed to empower KBOCC’s early childhood educators and to enrich the educational experience for their students, many of whom are mothers who are seeking to further their education while staying close to home.

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, KBOCC sits at the heart of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Reservation. Offering both an associate of arts degree in early childhood education and a certificate program in child development, KBOCC is committed to providing quality education rooted in Indigenous values.

Upon receiving the grant, KBOCC set out to integrate Ojibwa teachings into the community while providing hands-on experiences for their education students. In the fall of 2023, the children’s literature class embarked on a special project, selecting culturally relevant books such as “My Heart Fills with Happiness” and “The Water Protectors.” These books were shared with local head starts, preschools, daycares, and early elementary classrooms, enriching the lives of young learners and fostering a deeper connection to their heritage.

The grant also facilitated professional development opportunities for the early childhood department. Three faculty members and one student had the privilege of attending the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This experience allowed them to gain valuable insights into emerging trends and issues in early childhood education, ensuring that KBOCC remains at the forefront of educational innovation.

Looking ahead, KBOCC plans to further leverage the remaining portion of the grant funds to support creative teaching methods in tribal head start classrooms. By engaging in hands-on activities with children, early childhood students will gain valuable experience while making a positive impact on the community. They are hopeful that this can take place in early spring 2024.

Through the Ihduwiyayapi grant, KBOCC has not only provided hands-on experience for its students, it also supported the professional development of its staff. By embracing Indigenous teachings and staying abreast of the latest trends in early childhood education, KBOCC is nurturing a generation of educators equipped to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young learners and their community. Together, they are growing and thriving, embodying the spirit of Gimaajiigimin.

Recent Blog Posts

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust Partners with American Indian College Fund to Support Native Student Veterans

May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust Partners with American Indian College Fund to Support Native Student Veterans

The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) has received a $50,000 grant from the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust to implement a six-month fellowship focused on empowering Native student veterans to success. The Naabaahii Ółta’í (Student Warrior): Native Student Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program is a mentorship opportunity that builds relationships between veterans based upon their shared experiences.

American Indian College Fund Launches “Make Native Voices Heard” Voting Campaign

American Indian College Fund Launches “Make Native Voices Heard” Voting Campaign

Native Americans are more impacted by the law than any other group in the United States. Native students in higher education, or seeking a higher education, in particular are impacted by federal and state laws impacting funding for education, such as Pell Grants, student loans, and federal funding for tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), 70% of which comes from federal sources.

Support for Native People in Higher Education Includes Permitting Sharing of Tribal Affiliations

Support for Native People in Higher Education Includes Permitting Sharing of Tribal Affiliations

Employees at the University of South Dakota were told to remove tribal affiliations and gender pronouns from email signatures, citing a policy by the Board of Regents. This move lacks support for Native individuals in higher education, according to Cheryl Crazy Bull of the American Indian College Fund, who urges allies to stand with Native faculty and staff by including such details in their signatures.