Sesame Street will soon be coming directly to the homes of Syrian refugees — literally. On Wednesday, the MacArthur Foundation announced that it was granting the International Rescue Committee and the Sesame Workshop $100 million to create a comprehensive early childhood education program for displaced Syrians in the Middle East, HuffPost reports.
The IRC and Sesame Workshop's proposal goes beyond simply providing wholesome and educational TV content for young children. The stated goal of the program is to help alleviate "toxic stress" faced by displaced children who have seen an inordinate amount of violence and suffering at such a young age, as well as to "improve children's learning outcomes." Julia Stasch, the MacArthur Foundation president, called the proposed program "the largest early childhood intervention program ever created in a humanitarian setting."
Part of the $100 million budget will be used to fund more than 800,000 childcare workers, who will come to the refugees' homes to play with the children in an effort to augment the lessons taught in Sesame Street's TV programming. The IRC and Sesame Workshop also plan to open "child development centers" in the region affected by the Syrian civil war — which includes Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria — which will have educational resources, toys, and activities for children.
The $100 million grant is the biggest in the MacArthur Foundation's history. Sesame Workshop estimates that the program will be able to reach 9.4 million children. Watch a video about the program below (if you can hold back the tears), or read more from Sesame Workshop here. Kelly O'Meara Morales