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DENVER — The American Indian College Fund received a two-year, $600,000 grant from The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to help tribal college communities strengthen and expand the pipeline for Native teachers through its Indigenous Early Childhood Education Systemic Engagement and ECE Learning in Native American Communities program.

Early childhood education can help close the college education attainment gap among American Indians and Alaska Natives—which is currently less than half of other groups at 14.8 percent—by improving students’ academic achievement, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Indigenous teachers serve as critical role models engendering the success of young Native American students, while understanding the unique needs of their students. In addition to improving young children’s long-term educational attainment, early childhood education can also reduce the need for special education and increase employment and earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The American Indian College Fund’s two-year systemic engagement program will provide program mentorship between tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) and their students and will help increase TCUs’ capacity to address and eliminate barriers for Native American college students seeking a degree in early childhood education. The systemic engagement program will support dissemination of new knowledge and methods of culturally centered early childhood education in tribal college communities.

“Native people know that our children come to us from a sacred place and that their socialization is critical to their own well-being and to the well-being of tribal nations. We appreciate our partnership with The W.K. Kellogg Foundation because it results in our TCUs adapting our teachings and practices into modern infrastructure, demonstrating resiliency and commitment to kinship and identity,” Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund said,

The program is already underway. It began November 1, 2020.

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