The MacArthur Foundation has awarded a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee (IRC) to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East.
Sesame emerged winner from four finalists in the MacArthur 100&Change competition for bold solutions to critical problems of our time.
“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,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Less than two percent of the global humanitarian aid budget is dedicated to education, and only a sliver of all education assistance benefits young children. 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 Foundation’s board also award additional grants of $15 million to each of the other three finalists, based on the strength and potential impact of their proposals.
The three finalists granted $15 million each over five years are:
- Catholic Relief Services – changing how society cares for children in orphanages
- HarvestPlus – eliminating hidden hunger in Africa by fortifying staple crops
- Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University) – improving newborn survival in Africa
The Foundation, according to a statement on its website, said it “remains committed to helping the finalists attract the additional support their critical work requires”
Sesame Workshop and IRC will use the $100 million grant to implement an evidence-based, early childhood development intervention designed to address the “toxic stress” experienced by children in the Syrian response region—Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. The project will improve children’s learning outcomes today and their intellectual and emotional development over the long term.