Denver, Colo., July 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Research has shown that children of color are more likely to succeed when they have a teacher of the same race. Yet Native American children are much more likely to have a white teacher than a Native teacher. To promote Native children’s positive educational trajectory, in April the American Indian College Fund announced its launch of a new “For the Wisdom of the Children: Strengthening Teacher of the Color Pipeline” Early Childhood Education (ECE) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative, funded by a two-year, $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Today the College Fund is announcing it has chosen the five following tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to help grow the numbers of Native teachers in American Indian communities through teacher education and training, and to create culturally based community partner programs with educators and parents through the grant.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) in Cloquet, Minnesota will receive funding for its program titled Minogi’aawaso Maajigii (Raise Children in a Good Way as They Grow) to develop an associate of science early childhood education degree program focused on its emergent bilingual program. The program will increase parent involvement, support faculty development, and work with partner programs.

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC) in Baraga, Michigan
will receive funding for its Gimaadaadizimin (We All Start a Journey) program to strengthen the teacher education pipeline of Native teachers and teachers of color. KBOCC’s community learning model is the guiding framework for teacher development, outreach, and outcomes to place teachers in community programs. The program will implement a mentor and coach system to support development of teachers; create a community of learner’s model focused on building relationships and partnerships; disseminate the program plan by conference to reach more than 100 teachers; and implement culturally based work in the subject matter areas of family science, math, and engineering to engage with students and families in STEM activities.

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) in Bellingham, Washington will receive funding for its program titled Engaging Native Children in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM): What Our X’epy (Cedar People) and Scha’nexw (Salmon people) Can Teach Us about the World and Cosmology. The program will develop math, science, and technology courses for all associate of arts degree-seeking students at the institution. In addition, the college will build on the strength of its associate of science degree-transfer program and technology and will integrate outdoor learning spaces and Lummi culture/language connections by building upon its existing work.

Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in Pablo, Montana will receive funding for its Our People’s Timeline: Community STEM Education, Season by Season. The program is based on the concept that Indigenous STEM education is seamless and includes connections to SKC’s surroundings both in and outside of the classroom. The project timeline is guided by the seasons. SKC’s work will shed light on each area of the STEM fields

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico will receive funding for its Strengthening Our Collective Capacity: A Community-Based Initiative Supporting Early Childhood STEM Opportunities and Teacher Development program. The program will develop community-based projects that enable families to build cognitive thinking and skills necessary to engage in STEM fields in the future, with a goal of training teachers to support ECE STEM training and engaging preschool teachers to support quality ECE STEM education for children and families.

These TCU programs will create STEM opportunities grounded in Indigenous approaches including culture and language, starting with the earliest Native learners and their families. This is especially important given that Natives are severely underrepresented in the STEM fields.

The program commenced on July 1, 2018.

To learn more about how the American Indian College Fund’s work prepares young children for academic and social success at a foundational age through place-based, culturally appropriate education, please download the College Fund’s free landmark report detailing its work that inspired an international movement: Tribal College and University Early Childhood Education Initiatives: Strengthening Systems of Care and Learning with Native Communities from Birth to Career.

About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for more than 29 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer" and provided 6,548 scholarships last year totaling $7.6 million to American Indian students, with more than 125,000 scholarships totaling over $100 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org. About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

Dina Horwedel
American Indian College Fund
303-430-5350
dhorwedel@collegefund.org