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The Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI) began in 2012 as a partnership between ACF and American Indian tribal entities with Region XI Head Start/Early Head Start, Tribal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), and Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (Tribal MIECHV) programs. The purposes of the TELI are to:

  • Support tribes to coordinate tribal early learning and development programs
  • Create and support seamless, high-quality early-childhood systems
  • Raise the quality of services to children and families across the pregnancy-to-kindergarten-entry continuum
  • Identify and break down barriers to collaboration and systems improvement.

From 2012-2015, ACF funded four tribes (TELI1): the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (MT), the Pueblo of San Felipe (NM), and the White Earth Nation (MN). ACF provided focused technical assistance (webinars, regular calls, an on-site visit, an in-person meeting) and incentive funding to tribes to meet goals. Grantees had a great deal of flexibility to set local priorities and goals and develop individualized work plans and activities, with ACF’s support and guidance.

The TELI1 grantees made significant accomplishments in improving their early childhood systems and services, starting with building strong relationships across programs. Funds were used by grantees to enhance the early childhood system and improve the quality of services across existing programs, rather than to provide new services. The vision, commitment, and creativity of the first group of TELI grantees are highlighted in a 2015 report, “Tribal Early Learning Initiative: Collaborative Success”.

In response to the success of TELI1, ACF provided an opportunity for a new set of TELI projects, with new grants awarded in 2015. Eligible entities for this opportunity were Tribal Home Visiting grantees that also have a Region XI Head Start and/or Early Head Start program and a Tribal CCDF program in at least one of the communities they serve. Six new TELI2 awards were announced in August of 2015: Cherokee Nation (OK), Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (OR), Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (MT), and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (WI).

Through this opportunity, tribal entities received incentive awards to accomplish the goals of the TELI. The TELI2 also provides grantees with technical assistance tools and resources based on the “Collective Impact” model. Collective Impact takes a strategic and data-driven approach to collaboration and systems development. It incorporates an infrastructure and process that leads to a common agenda and effective decision-making across tribal early learning programs, while allowing for tribally- and locally-driven flexibility in design and implementation of projects.

Grant Activities

Technical Assistance Providers

Last Reviewed: March 9, 2016