For the Wisdom of the Children:

Strengthening the Teacher of Color Pipeline

About The Program

For the Wisdom of the Children: Strengthening the Teacher of Color Pipeline is the latest American Indian College Fund early childhood education (ECE) initiative thanks to a two-year, $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The initiative focuses on STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) early childhood education, partnering with Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to indigenize their STEM ECE curriculum, increase STEM opportunities for Native children, and provide more training and education in STEM ECE to increase the number of teachers of color, particularly Native teachers. This includes parents, TCU students, experienced teachers in early learning centers, and others who serve Native children and families.TCUs indigenize their ECE STEM programs, allowing both children and teachers to connect more meaningfully to developmentally appropriate learning. Centering indigenous knowledge is paramount to the sustainability of the systems of care needed for the holistic development and well-being of children.

By drawing on local knowledge, TCUs collaborate with their respective communities to create and implement STEM courses, activities, and training programs that are developmentally appropriate for children ages birth to eight. Each project centers around five domains — critical focus areas of work — including inter-generational family engagement, teacher quality, child development, Native language and culture, and pre-K to K-3 transition. For the Wisdom of the Children projects follow five strategic cycles of educational transformation to ensure intentional and sustainable of culturally informed practices. This framework engages Native families, Native communities, and other stakeholders throughout the transformation process through each phase: Visioning; Systems Development; Implementation; Authentic Assessment; and Reflection, Dissemination, and Reflection.

For the Wisdom of the Children ECE STEM initiative empowers Native children, families, teachers, and communities, and enriches the STEM field by enfolding Indigenous knowledge into it. It grants children the wisdom to see the connections in all things. Indigenous teachings are the root that sprouts and branches out to influence other fields of teaching. Children will take this wisdom with them as they grow, learning from those around them and becoming change agents for their communities for generations to come.

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For the Wisdom of the Children Meets COVID-19

By Janine Pease, For the Wisdom of the Children LBHC Project Director Just as we were rounding the turn to the last leg of the school year, the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. The Montana governor declared a Shelter in Home order in response to the coronavirus, and all public...

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Tribal College and University Early Childhood Education Initiatives: Strengthening Systems of Care and Learning with Native Communities from Birth to Career.

TCU Early Childhood Education Initiatives

For the Wisdom of the Children:
Strengthening the Teacher of Color Pipeline

Restorative Teachings Early
Childhood Education Initiative

Cultivating Lakota Early
Childhood Learning Opportunities

Ké’ Early Childhood Education
Family Engagement Initiative

Wakanyeja – Early Childhood
Education Initiative

Our Programs

Early Childhood Education

Connecting TCUs and our earliest learners, we support the creation and development of early childhood education from within Native communities — strengthening Native families’ roles as advocates and partners in their children’s education, and creating collaborations between early learning centers and community partners.

Native Culture and Language Preservation

Strong Native communities are built on tribal languages, cultural knowledge, and traditional arts. With many communities facing the risk of loss of language, culture, and traditional arts, we provide grants and support for communities to restore, sustain, and pass on traditional knowledge.

Environmental Stewardship

The College Fund invests in the TCUs that are engaged in strengthening their environmental science opportunities for students. It provides support for TCUs that are working with Native communities to develop and implement research initiatives and innovative collaborations.

Women's Leadership

By connecting Native women students at TCUs with faculty within their academic disciplines, and providing support for strong mentoring relationships, the College Fund is helping to develop the next generation of Native leadership in early childhood education, environmental science, and traditional Native arts.


Infrastructure involves design, implementation, and sustainability of systems and structures. We support tribal colleges and universities expanding their education offerings for students in this area, with opportunities to create well-designed learning spaces with the appropriate equipment, and to sustain or expand infrastructure.

Student and Institutional Success

We invest in individual students to support their pursuit of a college degree, and we invest in TCUs as the institutions that can provide an intellectual and academic home for students in Native communities.