Kyle Lynn Martinez and daughter Rosslyn are participants in Taos Pueblo’s Tiwa Babies home visiting program, one of many early childhood programs supported in collaboration with the LANL Foundation’s Pueblo Outreach Project, made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Courtesy/LANLF
Tiwa Babies staff unpacks the new laptop that will assist them with program documentation. From left, Katherine Chavez, Jackie Martinez, Aspen Mirabal and April Winters. Courtesy/LANLF
ESPANOLA — Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation’s Pueblo Outreach Project has received $1,197,675 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) of Battle Creek, Michigan.
The grant builds on a prior $1,066,240 WKKF grant that supported the initial planning phase of the Pueblo Outreach Project and statewide early childhood initiatives.
Starting in May 2017, the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council (ENIPC) and LANL Foundation worked collaboratively to build a trusting relationship that strengthened commitment to support children and families in Pueblo communities of Nambé, Ohkay, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque.
The Early Childhood Pueblo Outreach Project was developed through these partnerships and guided by Tribal leadership. Through storytelling, discussions, community connection and resource mapping conducted in Phase 1 of the project, Early Childhood Plans were developed collaboratively with each of the eight Pueblos, defining their mission, vision, values, community priorities and a path to achieve their goals for early childhood education, further program development and continued leadership engagement.
“The Pueblo Outreach Project is an exciting opportunity to build upon relationships within each Pueblo and learn from one another. Our babies are gifts to each community. We need to keep focusing on our future, and nurturing our children in love is critical,” said Jovanna Archuleta, LANL Foundation Pueblo Outreach Project Coordinator and Nambé Pueblo member.
With the new WKKF funding, Phase 2 focuses on implementing the Early Childhood Plans and building capacity and sustainability for existing ENIPC programs. LANL Foundation is providing both ENIPC and the Pueblos resources to help develop an ENIPC Capacity Plan, an Early Childhood Education Plan, Culture/Language Preservation Plan and Sustainability Plan. LANL Foundation also will assist with resource development and building community-level awareness to support families of young children.
To meet the goal of growing teachers within the communities and strengthening the Pueblos’ early childhood workforce in early learning centers, home visiting and Head Start programs, funds have been devoted to establish the first Early Childhood Education Cohort. This group of up to 20 Pueblo members, with at least two from each of the Eight Northern Pueblos, will pursue Child Development Certifications through a program accredited by Central New Mexico Community College’s Early Childhood Multicultural Education Department.
Tuition, registration, books, instructor fees and travel reimbursement will all be paid through the WKKF grant.
Courses are held online in addition to a class offered once a month at the LANL Foundation’s office in Española for in-person instruction.
Phase 2 of the Pueblo Outreach Project also established a monthly stipend for each Pueblo to use at their discretion for early childhood programming and to purchase a new laptop with needed software to keep current project and process documentation. Each Pueblo is also eligible for up to $3,300 in grant money for capacity- building activities such as early childhood initiatives, family gatherings, education, training and other projects that support children and families. LANL Foundation is facilitating the grant application process to assist each Pueblo with grant writing best practices and learning how to leverage future funding from other sources on their own. Grants to the Pueblos increase to $4,500 in the second year.
Communities already see positive impacts
Taos Pueblo’s Tiwa Babies is one of many programs benefiting from the grant. Tiwa Babies has provided home visiting since 2014, but support and funding from the Pueblo Outreach Project has enabled the program to achieve long-standing goals, including expansion to become a hub for connecting families to early childhood resources, strengthening established partnerships with local agencies and enhancing outreach to key decision-makers and community members about the benefits of home visiting. The program is set to hire a Family Navigator to help connect families to community resources and to implement projects identified during the mapping process, such as building a family playground.
“Because of LANL Foundation support, we’re doing things to really highlight early childhood in Taos Pueblo, things that I know we couldn’t have done on our own,” said Katherine Chavez, Tiwa Babies program coordinator/home visitor.
Kyle Lynn Martinez and her husband Travis Snyder have been involved with Tiwa Babies home visiting program since they were pregnant with their daughter Rosslyn, now a year and a half old.
“Not only do they provide the fundamentals and development skills for younger kids, but they include our culture,” Martinez said. “I appreciated having that insight into the culture of being pregnant, carrying the child, but also raising your child in a very strong community here at the Pueblo. Because culture is everything here for us as Pueblo people, we want to raise our children to grow up to be strong in traditional values.”
Nambe Pueblo began building a new home for the Head Start program prior to start of the Pueblo Outreach Project. With additional vision and community priorities defined in the Pueblo’s Early Childhood Plan, the Early Childhood Learning Center, completed in August 2019, evolved to include a clear focus on adding early care and learning services for children in preparation for Head Start. Additional funding is needed for program development in support of young children and their families.
“We have a healthy community that has pride in culture and the future of our children, the emphasis being on our language and core values,” said Nambe Governor Phillip Perez during the center’s opening. “And now with a new building, a documented vision and plan, I believe that the Pueblo of Nambe is in a very unique situation for the future.”
Parents Lauren Musgrave and Javier Vigil plan on sending their daughter Marie to the center.
“It’s going to help us with not only childcare, we both work full time, but we’re also going to have a safe, nurturing environment for her to be in. Having the benefit of a program that will focus on her own language is so key in her development. And I think her being able to interact with children her own age in her own community, the peers that she’s going to grow up with, is important as well,” said Musgrave.
LANL Foundation plans to phase out direct support after two years, at which time ENIPC and the Pueblos will take full ownership of their early childhood work and continue it into the future, strengthening education and developmental and health outcomes for young children that will benefit them and their families for generations.
Work on the Phase 1 statewide project continues
A major component of the initial WKKF funding was devoted to statewide initiatives to strengthen home visitation services in New Mexico. The initiative, which continues for another year, strives to create a seamless continuum of services that support children, families and communities in a culturally respectful way.
As with the Pueblo Outreach Project, collaborations have been key to this effort. The LANL Foundation established the New Mexico Home Visiting Collaborative, comprised of multiple stakeholders committed to a vision of universal home visitation. That group mapped existing home visiting programs statewide and will use that information to determine what they can collectively do to fill gaps and provide equal access to home visitation services statewide.
The collaborative’s 2018 work culminated in planning and implementing the New Mexico Home Visiting Summit, a conference centered on improving the health and wellbeing of children and families and elevating the profession of home visiting. A second statewide conference was held in September 2019, with plans for the 2020 summit already underway.
The LANL Foundation also worked in partnership with the New Mexico Early Childhood Funders Group, which convened private and public charitable foundations dedicated to improving the lives of babies, young children and their families through the lens of philanthropy.
“By working to align and integrate multiple sectors and systems, LANL Foundation staff has identified positive results that are driving change and improving outcomes for children and families,” said Anna Marie Garcia, Early Childhood Director. “The work that LANL Foundation has done and continues to do through this grant is grounded in supporting the important role of families in raising healthy and resilient children, recognizing that investing in their wellbeing will benefit their communities as well.”
Parents Javier Vigil and Lauren Musgrave read to their daughter Marie in the cultural room in Nambe Pueblo’s Early Childhood Learning Center. The center also includes classrooms, offices, meeting space, a therapy room and kitchen. Courtesy/LANLF
Nambe Pueblo Early Childhood Learning Center. Courtesy/LANLF