The American Indian College Fund has received a $5.315 million grant from the Bezos Family Foundation in support of its Indigenous Early Childhood Education program.
By educating students, training faculty, creating early childhood education programs at tribal colleges and universities, and involving parents and community in the education of young people, the College Fund hopes to grow the number of Native children and families it reaches, new early childhood curriculum created, and train even more early childhood educators.
Early childhood education has been shown to promote education access, persistence, completion, and career readiness in students, and the College Fund’s holistic program steeped in culture and language strengthens Native communities..
Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, said: “The College Fund is pleased that our relationship with the Bezos Family Foundation blossomed into this investment in our children and their families. As Indigenous people, we have traditional knowledge about how to raise and teach children that helps us to be better citizens of our Tribal Nations and of American society. We are looking forward to building on that knowledge and on the dreams of our families and Tribal Colleges and Universities for even better social and educational experiences for our children.”
The College Fund will be working with TCUs this fall to award funding for the first year in the four-year program.
The College Fund will build upon its early childhood education program success, which has reached more than 5,000 children, 3,900 families, and 2,700 teachers at TCUs across Indian Country.
In addition, the College Fund has committed to raise an additional six million dollars to offer the programming to 25 other TCUs.
Mike Bezos, Vice-President and co-Founder of the Bezos Family Foundation said: “The Bezos Family Foundation is proud to support American Indian College Fund’s work to expand access to high-quality, culturally-grounded early childhood preparation pathways within Tribal Colleges and Universities,” said . “We know from the science that positive interactions between young children and the adults in their lives is a powerful way to support healthy development, and we are confident that American Indian College Fund’s work will help support the preparation of Indigenous educators and strengthen Native communities.”