Kayla Toledo, a member of the Jemez Indian Tribe located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been caring for children her whole life. Since the age of 12, Kayla has played a huge role in raising her family's children and caring for the “little ones” during the summer, some as young as six months old. With six siblings and countless cousins, Kayla has worked long hours contributing to their upbringing. Her story is one of many for people in her community, as childcare options are sparse. That’s why Kayla was first inspired to create change in the Native American childcare space and pioneer an initiative to bring daycare centers to Native American families where they can learn and be educated on their culture.
When Kayla entered high school, she noticed a change in her friends and classmates. Some of them were getting pregnant, and there was limited access to adequate childcare. Driven to provide opportunities to those with limited options, Kayla sought to "offer something that hasn't been offered before." She decided to begin her entrepreneurial journey senior year of high school, and in the process was connected with US Secretaries, mentors, and community leaders to help get her vision across. One of these mentors recommended she attend the Leeds School of Business’ Rural Colorado Workshop Series (RCWS). She knew it was going to be a great opportunity, so she took the trip from Albuquerque to Ignacio, Colorado.
Preserving Heritage: Kayla’s Vision for Cultural Empowerment
Kayla’s vision extends beyond conventional childcare; she aspires to establish a learning center where children up to 5 years old can embrace their culture and language. She aims to give parents from Native American communities opportunities while creating an immersive environment where each child can explore their unique heritage. By incorporating representation and knowledge from all 19 pueblos (tribes), Kayla strives to ensure that every child receives a comprehensive education about their cultural background so that future generations of Native Americans know values, traditions, and beliefs to have a sense of belonging. She also hopes to provide knowledge on lessons learned from ancestors and the history behind how Native American people came to be.
Guided by the Rural Colorado Workshop Series
Kayla was able to be asked tough questions, and ultimately set on the best path for success with her company by attending RCWS’s annual workshop last year. She says:
“It was nice attending the workshop. It really pushed me even more actually to figure out and understand what I want within my program because during the workshop they asked me questions that I never thought about. It would either push people to come up with an answer or kind of give them a stopping point where they needed to think more about their business.”
The Rural Colorado Workshop Series is renowned for helping entrepreneurs set foot on the right path to startup success. Workshops are held annually over five years and are led by award-winning professors Erick Mueller and Eric Bruno in partnership with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. This August in Ignacio, RCWS will have its third year where entrepreneurs can focus on scaling up their startups. This two-day workshop is where participants can shift their thinking to “what’s next.” No matter what the startup is, RCWS provides useful tools for any entrepreneur to dig deeper into what’s to come for the next phase of their company.
Join the Journey: Register for RCWS Ignacio
Interested in attending the third annual Native Entrepreneurship Rural Colorado Workshop Series in Ignacio on Friday, August 11th, and Saturday, August 12th? Register Here! If you are a member of the Southern Ute Tribe, the cost of admission is free through scholarships. For more information on the event, make sure to check out the RCWS Ignacio registration page. We can’t wait to see you there!