TCU ECE Initiatives

Wakanyeja – Early Childhood Education Initiative


Project Description:


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

The American Indian College Fund, through the Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” – Tribal College Readiness and Success by Third Grade, is working to bring together tribal colleges, communities, educators, and families to address early learning disparities in Native communities. The initiative addresses the following five domains:

  1. Improve cognitive and non-cognitive skill acquisition among American Indian children
  2. Improve early childhood teacher education quality in Native communities by partnering with post-secondary teacher education programs at tribal colleges
  3. Bridge early childhood education Pre-K transition to K-3 schooling
  4. Integrate Native language(s) and culture(s) into curriculum development and instruction for teacher preparation programming, early childhood education centers, and K-3 settings
  5. Empower families and communities to act as agents of change in education for their children


In 2011, four tribal colleges were selected through a competitive process to participate in the Wakanyeja ECE Initiative and received up to $935,000 over four years to develop and strengthen early childhood education programs at tribal colleges. The Wakanyeja ECE Initiative grantees are: Ilisagvik College (Barrow, AK), College of Menominee Nation (Keshena, WI), Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (Albuquerque, NM), and Northwest Indian College (Bellingham, WA).

What’s New



Shaping the Future of Indigenous Early Learning: A Visioning Workshop for Investors via @MinneapolisFed

Participants from
@WK_Kellogg_Fdn @SchottFound
@BetterWayFdn @BrazeltonTouchp @collegefund contributed to our day!

What does a thriving birth to career pipeline look like? Check out the @collegefund's #ForTheWisdomoftheChildren #NativeECE #STEM Initiative. SKC increases learning opportunities for all!
Relationships: Children Discovering STEM with the World Around Them

We had an amazing time meeting with our #IndigVisionaries Women’s Leadership fellows & #TribalCollege faculty mentors from @skcollege, @fdltcc, & #SissetonWahpetonCollege at our headquarters in #Denver yesterday. #educationistheanswer

The #IndigVisionaries fellows were welcomed by @collegefund President & CEO, Cheryl Crazy Bull.

President Crazy Bull shared her conception of #Native / #Indigenous women's leadership.

The #IndigVisionaries fellows working on reflections about women who have inspired them to be their best self and visionary leader in #indiancountry and their respective communities.

@collegefund @fdltcc @skcollege #SissetonWahpetonCollege

The @collegefund Program Initiatives hosts 6 #IndigVisionaries fellows and 3 #TCU faculty mentors at our headquarters in #Denver #Colorado

Fellows are from @skcollege #Montana, @fdltcc #Minnesota, and #SissetonWahpetonCollege #SouthDakota


The 18-19 #IndigVisionaries fellow and their TCU faculty mentors attend a retreat at @collegefund headquarters in Denver CO. The TCU #ECE Initiatives is proud of our two visionary fellows: Kayla and Joni from @skcollege. Many thanks to Kathie M for being an inspiring mentor!

Dear Montessorians! Please help us spread the word-we have an opening in our Elementary I/II dual language classroom. It’s for the position of the English Speaking #Montessori Teacher. Please help spread the word. @AyizeS @montessori4sj @AMIUSA @amshq


Central to LBHC's #NativeECE project is Crow language. The @tribalcollege Journal shares, "The fact that Pease champions Native language revitalization underscores her profound understanding of the interrelationship between culture and language" (2019, 35). #TribalCollegeWomen

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