‘Sesame Street’ to educate Syrian refugees with $100M grant

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The Middle East is soon to become acquainted with the likes of Big Bird and Elmo, with the help of a $100-million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, the non-profit behind children’s television juggernaut “Sesame Street.”

According to a release on the foundation’s website, the $100-million grant was awarded to Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee (IRC) to allow them to “educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East.” The organization’s goal is to address the “toxic stress” that affects refugee children.

According to Fortune:

The grant will allow Sesame Workshop, which has brought localized versions of Sesame Street to several countries, including Bangladesh and Afghanistan, to create a new local version of the popular children’s show for 9.4 million children in the region.

Beyond that, the companies will coordinate home visits by caregivers, who will arrive with picture- and storybooks, toys, and parent brochures for up to 1.5 million of the most vulnerable children.

Jeffrey Dunn, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, said the Syrian refugee crisis is the “humanitarian issue of our time.”

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

“Embedded in the content, Sesame’s Muppets will model inclusion and respect, and gender equity, and they will provide engaging educational messages, always from a child’s perspective,” the release reads.

“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,” MacArthur President Julia Stasch stated in the release. “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.”

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