The nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street” has been awarded a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, the largest of its kind, to create programming for children displaced by Syria’s civil war.
Sesame Workshop, in partnership with International Rescue Committee, was selected for the foundation’s coveted 100&Change grant on Wednesday for a proposal to bring early education programming to refugee children. The effort promises to create a scalable, measurable model that can be replicated to educate refugee children 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 started a pilot program in Jordan and will now begin work to replicate its model on a global scale.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the MacArthur Foundation contest was announced in June 2016 and called for proposals “promising real progress toward solving a critical problem of our time in any field or any location.”
Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee will focus their efforts on children located in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.
According to UNICEF, countries surrounding Syria are hosting more than 5.3 million registered Syrian refugees, including more than 2.5 million children. Many refugee children are not enrolled in any school.
“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.
“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 continued. “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.”
The program will include a customized, local version of TV show “Sesame Street,” home visits with caregiving support sessions, and the creation of child development community centers.