College Fund Receives Clinton Global Initiative Commitment

Jun 10th, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive

Dr. Laurel Vermillion, president of Sitting Bull College (second left), announced the American Indian College Fund’s partnership with the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at the Clinton Global Initiative America annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.

The American Indian College Fund announced a Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) “Commitment to Action” for its partnership with the Brazelton Touchpoints Center today at CGI America’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. The organizations will work together to provide early childhood training for teachers and service providers in underserved, rural Native American communities. Both organizations are committed to raising funds for the program and for awareness about the challenges facing Native families regarding early learning and care opportunities.

Native American families living in remote, rural areas often have limited access to high-quality early childhood education for their children. This deficit is widened by other factors, including underfunded education centers and programs, outdated learning resources, and lack of teacher preparation for those working in communities with high rates of poverty, substance abuse, youth suicide, and unemployment. The College Fund and CGI America agree that early childhood education centers serving Native communities need access to affordable local training in learning instruction that honors tribal cultures and languages and fosters student success, assessment, and curriculum development.

The College Fund, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization providing scholarships and support for the nation’s 34 accredited tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, which offers innovative, strength-based interventions and practices to equip families, caregivers, providers, and systems of care to successfully support all domains of children’s early learning and healthy development, will partner to train 150 early childhood care providers and educators at six TCUs in Michigan, North Dakota, and New Mexico. The program will impact more than 660 Native families and their children across six tribal nations. The College Fund and the Brazelton Touchpoints Center will collect and track data to understand the impact of the training on teachers and Native and rural families over time. Both organizations will share best practices in Native American and rural communities with other educators.

This CGI Commitment builds upon the College Fund’s successful work training 371 early childhood teachers serving Native American communities. The work helped teachers create curriculum incorporating Native language and culture and engage families in their children’s early childhood education. The earlier programs served 29 tribal nations and 326 children, of which at least 80% were living below the national poverty line.

Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the College Fund says, “The most important role of tribal families is to appropriately socialize their children in cultural ways, in how to be a good relative, and with skills to lead prosperous, productive lives. Well-trained early childhood teachers and providers ensure that families especially parents have contemporary resources to strengthen traditional child-rearing practices and give children a solid foundation for better lives. The College Fund is so pleased that this commitment and our partnership with the Brazelton Touchpoints Center will allow us to significantly expand the number of trained early childhood education providers in our communities.”

Joshua D. Sparrow, director of Brazelton Touchpoints Center and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, adds, “Nation building begins with babies, children, and the families and communities who raise them. American Indian/Alaska Native early childhood educators are building nations as they build babies’ brains. The Brazelton Touchpoints Center is honored to partner with the American Indian College Fund and its colleagues in tribal colleges and universities to support the development of the early childhood education workforce and a new generation of leaders who will ensure the promise of every child and family in tribal communities.” Dr. Sparrow further states, “We commit to honor their vibrant cultures’ sacred sciences that guide children’s learning and healthy development and to respect the purposeful behaviors that babies offer, starting at birth, to help their parents, teachers and communities learn to raise them. In this workforce development partnership, we will bring together children’s wisdom and the teachings of elders as the foundation for the next generation of American Indian/Alaska Native leaders in early education.”

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