Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, has been given a massive $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to create programming for refugee children displaced by Syria’s civil war. The proposal from Sesame Workshop and its partner, the International Rescue Committee, promised that the Syrian programming would serve as a model program that can be replicated to help educate refugee children living all around the world.
“Our early childhood development program will be the largest in the history of humanitarian response, bringing hope and opportunity to a generation of refugee children,” Sesame Workshop says on its website.
The organization has already begun a program in Jordan but with this grant, it can start preparing to implement the Sesame Workshop model on a global level. Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee intend to focus the efforts of their programming to help refugee children located in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. The programming will feature customized versions Sesame Street to specifically appeal to local children, access to home visits that include caregiving support sessions, and building community centers to foster the development of the kids.
“We are compelled to respond to the urgent Syrian refugee crisis by supporting what will be the largest early childhood intervention program ever created in a humanitarian setting,” Julia Stasch, the MacArthur Foundation president, said in a press release.
UNICEF estimates that the countries surrounding Syria are currently hosting more than 5.3 million Syrian refugees, which includes 2.5 million children. A large number of these refugee children are not in school.
“Less than 2 percent of the global humanitarian aid budget is dedicated to education, and only a sliver of all education assistance benefits young children,” Stasch explained. “The longer-term goal is to change the system of humanitarian aid to focus more on helping to ensure the future of young children through education.”