'Sesame Street' wins $100 million for refugee children program

Sesame Workship, International Rescue Committee win grant to help Syrian refugee children

'Sesame Street' wins $100 million for refugee children program

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'Sesame Street' wins $100 million for refugee children program

America’s favorite early-morning muppet show just won big.

Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee won $100 million from the MacArthur Foundation to create an early-education program for refugee children last week.

The MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” grant is awarded to proposals that will make “truly significant progress … on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges.”

This comes two months after the non-profit behind “Sesame Street” announced its project to help kids cope with trauma and approximately seven months after the workshop and IRC first announced their partnership to help children of war.

The duos’s program will “implement an evidence-based, early childhood development intervention designed to address the ‘toxic stress’ experienced by children” in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.

What Sesame Workshop and the IRC will do:

Ameena, a teacher, does an activity with Tonton the muppet and Syrian refugee children during a kindergarten class at the Fneish camp, in eastern Lebanon, Nov. 20, 2017. ( Credit: Tara Todras-Whitehill for the International Rescue Committee and Sesame Street)

  • Provide “customized educational content and a new local version of Sesame Street” to 9.4 million children that will teach “language, reading, math,” social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in life. All for free.
  • Send trained professionals to visit the homes of refugee families and equip the parents or adult guardians with educational emotional-support content to combat “toxic stress” in themselves and their kids (think games, picture books, pamphlets, toys, etc.).
  • Build “child development centers” out of old schools and buildings that will offer “nurturing care (and) learning centers … equipped with storybooks, video clips on pre-loaded projectors, activity sheets, and training guides to enable age-appropriate, play-based learning.”

Credi: Sesame Workshop/ Parisa Azadi

Hallie Ruvin, a spokeswoman for Sesame Workshop, told All the Moms the $100 million grant will be distributed to them and the IRC over a five-year period and that the organization plans to begin implementation immediately.

Sesame Street Arabic content has been around for about 40 years, Ruvin said, so the organization will begin re-purposing those videos for the new program, and then that content should be ready for early 2019.

“These children are, arguably, the world’s most vulnerable and by improving their lives we create a more stable and secure world for us all.” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, president & CEO of Sesame Workshop.

“This may be our most important initiative ever and we are humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in us.”

WATCH: The program’s ‘home visit’

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