The LEGO Foundation has awarded Sesame Workshop a $100 million grant to put towards the education of young children who have been affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises.
Sesame Workshop will work in partnership with BRAC, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and New York University’s (NYU) Global TIES for Children to reach these young refugees with early childhood and play-based learning opportunities. Sesame Workshop will receive the $100 million grant for the program from the LEGO Foundation over a five-year period, with funds released as established milestones are met.
The program will include new Sesame Street videos, storybooks, games, puzzles and more. Much of the new content will use animated and nonverbal formats. The program will also deepen the play-based learning aspects of the existing Sesame Workshop-IRC program with support for caregivers to help them better engage in playful learning with their children.
Jeffrey D. Dunn, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, commented: “With the LEGO Foundation’s extraordinary award, Sesame Workshop and our partners have an unprecedented opportunity to reach and teach some of the world’s most vulnerable children by harnessing the power of learning through play. The global refugee crisis is the humanitarian issue of our time, and we are deeply humbled by the trust the LEGO Foundation has placed in us to uplift the lives of children affected by conflict. Together with our partners at BRAC, the IRC and NYU, we can forge a legacy for children worldwide affected by displacement, today and for generations to come.”
Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board and owner of the LEGO Group, said: “This partnership marks the first step of the LEGO Foundation’s commitment to work within the humanitarian field to support children’s holistic development that incorporates learning through play. We hope to inspire other funders, humanitarian actors, world leaders and governments to act and urgently prioritize support for play-based early childhood development for children in humanitarian crises—a vastly overlooked but vital component in the progress of humanitarian aid. We hope that young children impacted by these crises will have opportunities to benefit from learning through play and also develop the skills needed for them to thrive in the future.”
John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation, added: “Research shows that not only is play vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, but it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures. Early adverse experiences negatively affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. By providing play-based learning to children in crisis, we can help mitigate the detrimental, long-term effects of displacement and trauma, ultimately giving a generation of refugee children a path forward.”