The Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative Institute: W.K. Kellogg Foundation Core Funding for Sustainability & Expansion

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With core funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative (IELC), led by First Light Education Project (Denver, CO) and the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) (Boston, MA) established the Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative Institute, a national institute working with Indigenous communities to strengthen early childhood education.

“Establishing the IELC Institute is one more step in our collaboration with Indigenous communities toward ensuring that these communities have the resources they need to strengthen their early learning systems and practices for children, teachers, and families,” says BTC Executive Director Dr. Joshua Sparrow.

The IELC is a national initiative designed for Indigenous communities to strengthen early learning through Community-Based Inquiry (CBI), a process by which Indigenous communities engage in asking and investigating their own questions about their early childhood practices. Community members are the researchers, using CBI to generate critical questions, develop methodologies, analyze data, and construct local, relevant, actionable, and sustainable solutions.

With the support of the Kellogg Foundation, the IELC launched in January 2021, supporting four Indigenous communities: Wiikwedong Early Childhood Development Collaborative (Michigan); Wicoie Nandagikendan Immersion Program (Minnesota); Daybreak Star Preschool (Washington State); and Keiki Steps (Hawai’i). The IELC Institute builds on the success of these four communities to create a sustainable foundation upon which this work can be expanded to additional communities.

“The IELC Institute is an intellectual home, a powerful collective, a partner with communities, and a visionary contributor to the work that Indigenous communities across the United States and the world are doing to create strong, effective, equitable, and accessible systems — honoring Indigenous knowledge, language, culture, and processes — for their earliest learners. We will continue to support communities in their quest to change the world through early education,” says Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, Founder and Principal Consultant of First Light Education Project and Director of the IELC Institute.

A documentary film, in which the IELC communities share their stories of implementing CBI, is available for viewing on the IELC website, along with reports and briefs on the first two years of the IELC:

To learn more about the IELC, visit:

Photo credit: Photo by Nappy on Unsplash

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