Bringing hope and opportunity to a generation of refugee children

12 million children under age 8 have been displaced in the global refugee crisis—and that number is on the rise. They’ve lost homes and loved ones, seen violence, and endured the types of trauma that lead to toxic stress. This has long-term effects on children’s lives, and ultimately impacts society at large.

But we can help.

When children in crisis have opportunities to learn, they can grow and thrive—into a better future. Together, Sesame Street and the IRC are creating a transformative early childhood development program designed to reflect the unique experiences of displaced families in the Syrian response region. Reaching children, parents, and caregivers wherever they are—from classrooms to health clinics to mobile devices—the program will address immediate needs and help build a strong foundation for future well-being.

100&Change Award

Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee are thrilled and honored to have been awarded MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant for our proposal to bring early education to refugee children. The global competition awarded $100 million to a single proposal promising “real and measurable progress” toward solving a critical problem of our time.


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. It will also serve as a scalable model that will impact the way the humanitarian system responds to future refugee crises around the world. With initial funding from the Bernard van Leer Foundation and Open Society Foundations, we’ve already launched a pilot program in Jordan—this grant allows us to replicate our efforts on a grand scale—delivering life-changing education to a generation that hangs in the balance.


Learn more about the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition.

Follow Our Ongoing Work

“If we can reach these children, we can teach these children. By giving them the benefits of early education, Sesame Workshop and IRC can change their trajectory and afford them the chance for a successful future.”

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Sherrie Westin

EVP Global Impact and Philanthropy

Sesame Workshop

“Our partnership with Sesame Workshop will help transform children’s lives by making sure that their social-emotional needs are met so they are able to receive an education, contribute to their community, and succeed as adults.”

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David Miliband

President and CEO

International Rescue Committee