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



Read more about the College Fund’s #ECE partnerships with #TribalColleges in our ECE Report:

Also found on our webpage:

#NativeECE #NativeTeachers #FortheWisdomoftheChildren #EducationIsTheAnswer

The #CollegeFund has a new partnership with #WestEd. #WestEd strengthens leadership, knowledge, and skills with research-informed professional development.
#ECESTEM #ECE #NativeTeachers #FortheWisdomoftheChildren #NativeECE

Tomorrow is #IndigenousPeoplesDay. We're encouraged & hopeful as more states officially acknowledge Native people & our contributions. Let’s celebrate the success of our Native scholars & show them they're seen & they have a nation of support behind them! #EducationIsTheAnswer

#NIEA #FDLTCC poster presentation. "Medicine and Edible Plants in Northern Minnesota Ojibwa Country" and the "Decline of Birch Trees and the Effect on a Native American Tradition."

#NIEA 2019 Annual Native Languages Summit, “Our #Native Languages, Our Educational Sovereignty. “The ability for our communities to remain and thrive rests on the adhesion and cohesion that #NativeLanguages have provided in times of celebration as well as in time of imposition.”


Just published! Read our first ever #ECE blog post from #TribalCollege ECE grantee Little Big Horn College:


Looking back on the Ké’ Initiative:
“What we want to get to through an initiative like this is to be able to enact the [educational] systems that have existed far before any formal, non-Native system was put in place.”
#NativeECE #ParentsAsTeachers

Looking back on our Ké’ initiative of which family engagement was at the center. In our current #FortheWisdomoftheChildren initiative, our focus is on strengthening Native teachers, including #ParentsAsTeachers.

#NativeECE #EducationIsTheAnswer

The @collegefund attending the Opening Plenary Panel with Early Childhood Educators: Seeing the Future of the Profession through the eyes of Today's Educators at @4earlysuccesss. The field of #ECE has been doing a lot of advocating for the profession.


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