TCU ECE Initiatives

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


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.

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 8. 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.

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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Drawings of Whales with decorative text stating: A Tribal College and University collaborative to strengthen systems of care and learning with Native families and children.”