Chicago’s MacArthur Foundation gifts Sesame Street $100 Million

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On Wednesday, two New York-based organizations that help educate millions of Syrian refugee children through home visits, learning centers and local versions of “Sesame Street” was awarded $100 million by the Chicago’s MacArthur Foundation.

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According to WGN9, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Sesame Workshop as well as the International Rescue Committee as joint winners of a competitive grant program with a focus on solving critical problems.

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According to officials with the organizations, the news outlet reports they will use the five-year grant to address “toxic stress” experienced by displaced children in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, as well as educational basics. Close to 9.4 million children will have access to the local version of “Sesame Street” in Arabic and Iraqi Kurdish through television, cellphones as well as direct services, WGN reports.

According to the news outlet, language, reading, math and social skills will be the emphasis, as well as lessons on both inclusion and equality. The program will also include child development centers, community sites where organizers envision families will have access to books and videos and home visits to bring books, toys and parenting resources, according to WGN.

“There is no more pressing issue. This is the humanitarian crisis of our time,” said executive vice president at Sesame Workshop, Sherrie Westin, to WGN.

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The money is a huge step in the right direction not only for the organizations but for efforts to help the refugee children in general. As the IRC, as well as Sesame Street, officials believe the $117 million budgets is one of the biggest grants of its kind, WGN reports.

$750 million is the IRC’s rough annual budget. Westin hopes the program which is evidence-based will become a refugee children’s educational model worldwide, according to the news outlet.

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