The American Indian College Fund (AICF) has received $5,000,000 for the Wakanyeja Early Childhood Development Initiative. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is responsible for the gift.

Wakanyeja (“Sacred Little Ones”) is funded for five years and is intended to:

Improve young Native American students’ skill acquisition
Prepare them for grades K-12 and post-secondary education
Improve the quality of early childhood teachers in Native communities
Bridge early childhood and K-3 education
Integrate Native language and culture into early childhood curriculum
Empower Native families and communities assist in the education of their children

Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz is the new program administrator.

Tarajean, who is Navajo, will continue her “lifetime of work—in both research and practice—focused on the ways in which teachers incorporate language and culture in the education of Native children,” says an AICF press release.

Previously Yazzie-Mintz was an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Indiana University/Bloomington.

Tarajean was born on the Navajo Reservation and educated in Navajo schools and a Quaker boarding school. She got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and education psychology at Arizona State University. She then  earned her doctorate at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Learning and Teaching.

Yazzie-Mintz has received many professional awards and honors; earned four competitive grants and fellowships; has presented at more than 40 scholarly meetings and symposia; and has been published in 22 scholarly publications focusing on education.

Her parents—Albert A. Yazzie and Bessi B. Yazzie—are both Navajo educators.