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A young Syrian boy and girl with a Sesame Street Elmo puppet in their tent in a refugee camp in Jordan
Education

The International Rescue Committee & Sesame Workshop: rescuing children's futures

Photo: Sesame Workshop/Ryan Heffernan

The International Rescue Committee and Sesame Workshop — the nonprofit, educational organization behind Sesame Street — are working together to give millions of young refugees and other children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and northern Iraq whose lives have been affected by war the support they need to learn, grow and thrive. 

Harnessing the unique strengths of both organizations, we are developing a holistic early childhood learning and development program featuring the trusted Sesame Street Muppets, designed from the ground up to reflect the experiences and to address the needs of refugee children, their parents and caregivers. 

This program will reach young children wherever they are, through extensive distribution networks across schools, community centers, social protection programs, health clinics, broadcast media, the web and mobile. We'll also provide tools and strategies to help parents and caregivers better support their children’s early learning and development.

We are honored that the MacArthur Foundation has selected this program as one of eight semi-finalists in its '100&Change' grant competition, which will award a one-time $100 million grant to 'make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem of our time.'

Uprooted children and those trapped inside war zones grow up with violence and neglect that can lead to toxic stress. They experience lower academic achievement, future unemployment, depression and violence. And without access to high-quality early learning programs, they are less likely to have the skills they need to support themselves and also help rebuild their communities. But children are resilient, and the damage can be reduced if they are reached early.

We are honored that the MacArthur Foundation has selected this program as one of eight semi-finalists in its 100&Change grant competition, which will award a one-time $100 million grant to “make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem of our time.”

Should we win this historic competition, the IRC and Sesame Workshop will systematically improve development outcomes—at even greater scale—for a generation of children affected by conflict. 

“Nearly half of all refugees are children who face bleak prospects due to the trauma of displacement and war, said IRC President and CEO David Miliband. "Our partnership with Sesame Workshop will help transform children’s lives by making sure that their social-emotional needs are met so they are able to receive an education, contribute to their community and succeed as adults.”

Our partnership with Sesame Workshop will help transform children’s lives by making sure that their social-emotional needs are met so they are able to receive an education, contribute to their community and succeed as adults.

Of the record 65 million people currently forced from their homes, half of them are children, and 12 million are under the age of eight.  With more children living in crisis than ever before, it is essential that we create new opportunities to support their development and learning.  This is a critical moment in history. Helping these children is an investment in the future peace, stability and prosperity of the region.

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Refugee crisis in the Middle East

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