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



Day 2 of the Video-Cued Ethnographic Methodology training involved practicing filming in early childhood centers. At debrief, our #TribalCollege #ECE representatives had some strong ideas for implementing their training into their Early Childhood programs.



The College Fund’s #ECE Program Initiatives team and #TribalCollege representatives are in San Antonio, Texas for the Video-Cued Ethnographic Methodology training, led by Dr. Jennifer Keys Adair with assistance from her ECE grad students. Day 1 was a success!


The #CollegeFund, in collaboration with #tribalcolleges, engage in #ECE initiatives that draw upon child development knowledge from within #Native communities melded with the best practices identified in the field of #ECE.

Next week! The #FortheWisdomoftheChildren initiative #tribalcollege grantees will be attending a Video-Cued Methodology Training. Video-Cued Ethnographic Methodology: Stay tuned!
#vialogues #ECE #NativeECE #UnivofTexas

Did you know you can look through the @CollegeFund’s past #TCU #ECE Initiatives on our Program Initiatives webpage? Click on each program to see our unique ECE initiatives from over the years, and how far we and the #TribalColleges we support have come:

“We know that we want to maintain our culture and languages to further our tribal nations, but how do we do it?” The answer still lies in the impact we make on our earliest learners, the #SacredLittleOnes.

#ECE #Wakanyeja #FortheWisdomoftheChildren

#FortheWisdomoftheChildren TCU partners indigenize their #ECESTEM programs, allowing both children and teachers to connect more meaningfully to developmentally appropriate learning.
#SKC #Native #ECE #Children #Families

In our latest #ECE blog post, #FortheWisdomoftheChildren grantee Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College explores how #STEM education is rooted in Indigenous ways of being.

#NativeECE #EducationIsTheAnswer #TribalCollege #FDLTCC

We have moved forward from our #Wakanyeja #ECE initiative, but the 5 Domains still stand in our programs. Our current ECE initiative, #FortheWisdomoftheChildren, draws on one of the domains of improving teacher quality. Learn more about the 5 Domains:

Video-Cued Ethnographic Methodology Training in 2 weeks. Getting excited. The #FortheWisdomoftheChildren initiative #tribalcollege grantees will be attending a Video-Cued Methodology Training led by Dr. Jennifer Adair. More to come!
#ECE #NativeECE

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