The National Museum of African American History and Culture has announced a $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand its Early Childhood Education Initiative.
ECEI programming combines early childhood education, developmental psychology, human development, and museum education to help children develop healthy racial identities, feel comfortable with human diversity, recognize unfairness, and develop the capacity to take a stand against prejudice. In addition to onsite programming for young children, including sensory-driven projects and guided conversations tailored to different ages and developmental stages, the grant will fund national outreach efforts as well digital instructions and resources for research-based publications, adults, and educators.
"Early childhood education has the power to change the future," said the museum's interim director, Spencer Crew. "To begin the process of racial reconciliation and healing, we must have meaningful and intentional conversations with children about racial identity and promote anti-bias values from birth. With an appreciation for differences in early childhood, young children can develop into adults who actively challenge bias, stereotyping, and various forms of discrimination."
"Children are remarkably good observers who pay close attention to human behavior," said NMAAHC director of education Esther J. Washington. "There is a common misconception that young children are 'color blind' and untouched by prejudice. Research shows that from infancy, children are developing mental maps that lead to their baseline racialized identity and social status before the age of six. Early childhood education has the power to guide racial and social identities to a healthy place."