Ké’ Early Childhood

Education Family Engagement Initiative

About The Program

Strengthening systems of shared responsibilities among families, schools and communities.

The Ké’ Early Childhood Initiative (Ké’ ECE Initiative) supports tribal college grantees and their tribal and community partners in deepening their engagement with Native families in the education of their children, starting from birth to age 8. This program is the second early childhood education initiative of the American Indian College Fund awarded funding by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in five years.

The Ké’ ECE Initiative builds upon the success of the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” ECE Initiative, prioritizing the strengthening of Native families’ roles in early childhood education and learning opportunities. Promotion of partnerships and strategies, to both address systemic inequities and support ways families can become advocates for positive change, will result in greater opportunities for families to engage in advocacy and policy for Native communities.

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College Fund Research Intern Presents at National Family and Community Engagement Conference

My name is Cassandra Harden. I am a graduated from  Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) with an associate’s degree in early childhood education who is  currently working as a Tribal College and University (TCU) research intern for the College Fund.

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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.

Indigenous Visionaries

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.