Sesame Seeds graduated

Teaching the world’s most vulnerable children

In this historic effort, IRC and Sesame Workshop help children whose lives have been uprooted by the Syrian war to build brighter futures.
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Design
Test
Scale

Sesame Seeds graduated following this stage

financing

Displacement Insurance

Displacement insurance disburses funds for swift life-saving action during crises, with an overall aim to make humanitarian aid more agile.

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resettlement

Resettlement Finance

In this new model for refugee resettlement finance, a self-sustaining fund provides countries with finance for refugee resettlement, and is replenished as refugees fuel economic growth.

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resettlement

Placement Algorithm

U.S.

Airbel is piloting and scaling an innovative machine learning algorithm developed by the Stanford University Immigration Policy Lab that matches refugees in areas where they are likely to thrive when...

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education

Pop Up Learning

Bangladesh

Pop-Up Learning is a computer-assisted learning program, aimed to mobilize quickly and efficiently on the onset of crisis.

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employment

Trade Accelerator

Focused support for Jordanian businesses to foster rapid growth and help them tap into the European market and hire refugees to do so.

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This project became inactive following the Generate Solutions phase

nutrition

Virtual Baby

This portable game would let children earn points for raising a happy baby, teaching them about sexual health and nutrition.

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This project became inactive following the Generate Solutions phase

resettlement

Ask Laila

A hotline, SMS, and web-based service to help resettled refugees get quick answers from a trusted local source - in their own language.

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This project became inactive following the Prototype phase

nutrition

Sprout

Niger

Over 16 million children under the age of 3 are afflicted by severe acute malnutrition. To pinpoint the most impactful prevention methods, Sprout is experimenting with 3 distinct approaches.

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education

Spark

Tanzania

Spark creates alternative learning spaces outside of refugee camp schools to practice play-based learning and social-emotional skills with primary school children.

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This project became inactive following the Prototype phase

resettlement

Caseworker Communications

United States

In partnership with Twilio.org, Airbel is developing an SMS-based system to streamline communication between caseworkers and newly-settled refugees as they adapt to their new lives in the United States.

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education

Coach Everu

Tanzania

Coach Erevu is a digital coaching program that aims to build the social emotional skills of teachers through weekly peer-to-peer video clubs, timely habit triggers, and bite-sized teaching materials

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nutrition

Low-Literacy Malnutrition Tools

South Sudan

In hard-to-reach areas local community health workers are key to treating malnourished children. Commonly used tools for diagnosing and treating malnutrition have been adapted to meet the needs of workers...

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This project graduated following the Pilot phase

employment

Match

Jordan

Working to counter the high rates of unemployment that follow mass displacement, the Match project in Jordan is testing a set of new innovations for placing vulnerable populations and refugees...

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education

Sesame Seeds

In this historic effort, IRC and Sesame Workshop help children whose lives have been uprooted by the Syrian war to build brighter futures.

Find out more

This project graduated following the Pilot phase

education

Tunakujenga

Tanzania

Tunakujenga is a family learning program that empowers caregivers to learn and practice social and emotional learning activities with their children at home.

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safety

Becoming One

Uganda

Becoming One is a counseling program designed to bring couples closer and prevent intimate partner violence. The program is delivered in partnership with local faith leaders, who guide couples through...

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safety

Modern Man

Liberia

Modern Man is a mobile messaging campaign that engages men with an aspirational and positive masculine identity to prevent intimate partner violence. It sends SMS messages to men who have...

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There are currently no projects in the Scale phase

Sesame Street and the IRC have partnered on Sesame Seeds, a historic initiative that will bring hope and opportunity to a generation of children affected by the Syrian conflict. Refugees around the world are displaced for an average of 10 years, and the humanitarian system struggles to support them. The humanitarian system is was created to respond to short-term problems and focus on meeting basic needs. Plus, only 2% of funding goes to education—and just a fraction to early childhood. Sesame Seeds is the largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response, combining an educational broadcast reaching 9.4 million children in the region with direct services for 1.5 million of the most vulnerable.

Few Syrian children have opportunities to learn and play; some have been exposed to extreme violence. They are at risk of “toxic stress,” a biological response to adversity that disrupts normal brain development. Sesame Seeds harnesses the unique strengths of IRC and Sesame Seeds to deliver early learning and care at scale. It combines high quality, research-driven educational content, engaging characters who connect deeply with children’s lives and experiences, and extensive on-the-ground operations to support families in fragile settings.

Sesame Seeds aims to help parents provide the care children need to overcome toxic stress, through in-person support as well as video and audio content. Community sites are transformed into nurturing care and learning centers. Frontline staff are trained, and centers equipped to provide support for managing and overcoming toxic stress. And finally, a locally-produced television show will introduce children to characters and role models who understand their experiences, including the Sesame Muppets. The show focuses on language, literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills. Most of all, Sesame Seeds helps promote understanding—children spend time with characters that help them be smarter and kinder.

January 2018 | Joint project team established.

Project transitioned and graduates from Airbel.

December 2017 | MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Grant awarded to Sesame Workshop and IRC

September 2017 | Named as finalists in MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Grant Competition

April 2017 | Launch of pilot

15-month pilot begins, with funding from the Bernard van leer foundation and the Open Society Foundation.

March 2017 | Advisory Meeting held

Early work funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Open Society Foundation supports a Global Advisory Meeting to discuss early childhood development humanitarian response with 84 participants from UN agencies, government and non-government organizations, academic experts, and humanitarian organizations. 

We develop new solutions to better serve people suffering the effects of conflict and crisis.