The MacArthur Foundation has awarded a grant of $100 million to the Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee (IRC) to develop evidence-based, early education interventions for children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East. Among the members of the Sesame-IRC team are RSF trustee Hiro Yoshikawa (New York University) and former RSF visiting scholar J. Lawrence Aber (New York University). Yoshikawa is co-author of the RSF book Cradle to Kindergarten. Aber is co-editor of of RSF’s Neighborhood Poverty volumes.
Both Yoshikawa and Aber are childhood development experts and co-directors of New York University’s Global TIES for Children. As part of the Sesame-IRC team, they will collaborate with regional partners in the Middle East to implement educational programs designed to address the “toxic stress” experienced by children who have lived in conflict zones. These initiatives will include producing customized educational content, such as a pan-Arab version of Sesame Street, to help boost children’s language, reading, math, and social skills. Other programs will provide increased training to caregivers and community health workers and establish local learning centers for young children. "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,” MacArthur president Julia Stasch said in a statement. “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."