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September 08, 2014

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Sesame Workshop Appoints Jeffrey Dunn as President and CEO

By Sesame Workshop


Vincent A. Mai, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sesame Workshop, announced today the appointment of Jeffrey D. Dunn as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop, effective September 29, 2014. Mr. Dunn, formerly the President and CEO of HiT Entertainment, will succeed Mel Ming who announced his retirement earlier this year. Mr. Dunn will lead the nonprofit educational organization in its mission to use the educational power of media to help all children reach their highest potential.

Mr. Dunn currently serves as a 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University with a focus on media and education. Previously, he served as President and CEO of HiT Entertainment from 2008 until 2012. HiT was one of the world’s leading independent children’s entertainment producers airing its content in more than 160 countries around the world, primarily on public broadcasters. HiT’s signature property was Thomas & Friends, which was the world’s leading boys’ preschool brand. Before joining HiT, Dunn served as Group Chief Operating Officer of the Nickelodeon Networks group and the President of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises, where, among other things, he built Nickelodeon’s international networks business and oversaw the growth of Blue’s Clues, SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer into three of the world’s largest licensed property brands.

“Jeff Dunn has an outstanding track record in the world of children’s media,” said Vincent Mai. “At HiT Entertainment, Jeff led the company’s resurgence and successful turn-around before it was sold to Mattel in 2012. And under his leadership, Nickelodeon became one of the industry’s most global networks, largest licensing businesses, as well as the world’s largest digital media business for kids. His current experience at Harvard is a testament to his commitment to the educational power of media and we look forward to the Workshop thriving under his creative, inspired leadership.”

Jeff Dunn said, “Sesame Workshop really invented the business of kids television as we know it today and all of us in the kids media industry recognize the debt we owe the Workshop for leading the way. I am truly humbled by this opportunity to join the Workshop and help to steer its future and educational mission.”

Jeff Dunn recently served on the board of American Greetings and Sprout, the award-winning preschool children’s TV network. He graduated with honors from Harvard College, and earned his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street which reaches 156 million children across more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help all children reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, including television programs, digital experiences, books and community engagement, its research-based programs are tailored to the needs of the communities and countries they serve, helping children everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder.

Photo by Gil Vaknin

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July 15, 2014

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Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry Report and Sesame Street Framework for School Readiness

By Sesame Workshop


Preparing children for school has always been a part of what we do at Sesame Workshop. To continue to do this and understand the needs of today’s children, our research team commissioned an analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to ascertain the status of preschoolers school readiness and their abilities as they enter kindergarten. The findings are being released today in the Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry report. The report shows wide differences in school readiness persist with 44% of children entering school with one or more risk factors that impact their success in school. The analysis examined four risk factors that have been associated with children’s development and school achievement: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line and non-English speaking households. High-risk children (those with all four risk factors) were found to be nearly a year behind their peers with no risk factors in their reading and math abilities.

In light of these findings, we are sharing our Sesame Street Educational Framework for School Readiness. The Framework is a guide that outlines the developmental progressions of preschoolers within the 20 core school readiness skills. Up until now, it has been an internal guide used to complement the whole child curriculum that is the basis of all Sesame Street content that helps children grow smarter, stronger and kinder.  We are releasing this document in the hopes that fellow content developers will use it to better understand the developmental needs of preschoolers and create educational content that will help close the school readiness gap.

Find the Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry report here and check out the Sesame Street Educational Framework for School Readiness.

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June 10, 2014

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With Food, Hope, and Cookie Monster

By Sesame Workshop


This post is by Enid A. Borden, Founder, President and CEO of the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.

By the time we arrived to set up for our special event on May 17, families were already lined up and waiting in the parking lot. My foundation, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH), was hosting a healthy eating event for the community of McDowell County, WV, and the families were waiting for the moment when they would finally see the star they knew about but never dreamed they would actually meet – Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

Our Healthy Food, Healthy Fun, Healthy Future event, which marked the conclusion of a year-long, intergenerational nutrition education project underwritten by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, encouraged all the people of McDowell County to celebrate and practice the healthy lifestyle habits we had been teaching to many of them. After enjoying a free, nutritious lunch, families visited our special farmers market where they could learn how they could easily incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meals. Each family left the market with a complimentary bag of produce consisting of fresh kale, tomatoes, corn on the cob, apples, zucchini and dried pinto beans.

As the adults visited the market, a local radio station that was on site for the event kept children dancing, while they waited in line for their turn to jump in the bounce house and race each other around an inflatable racetrack on oversized tricycles.  There were many things to see and do, but nothing so engaged and delighted old and young alike as meeting Cookie Monster. When the children saw Cookie, they ran to him, hugged him tightly and stayed by his side.  It was clear that they craved affection, and Cookie was a safe one to approach first. Before long, one little girl ran over to me and took a flying leap into my arms too. These children deserve more than they get most days. That Saturday was different.

Make no mistake about it. Most of the parents and grandparents are doing their best to provide for the children, but there isn’t much in the way of opportunities and resources to make that possible in this isolated County. McDowell County, WV, is the poorest in West Virginia and one of the poorest counties in the nation. In McDowell County, nearly three out of five children live in a home with no biological parent present. This leaves many grandparents with the daunting task of raising their grandchildren with limited resources and without adequate access to affordable, nutritious food. NFESH-commissioned research shows that grandparents living in a home with a grandchild are two times more likely to face the threat of hunger than their peers who do not reside in a home with a grandchild. That, combined with widespread poverty, unemployment, a prevalence of illegal drugs and prescription drug abuse, the shortest life expectancies in the nation, and geographic isolation, leave the wonderful people of McDowell with little time and room for fun in their lives.

Our day of celebration of healthy eating brought them that, but it also delivered much more. It gave them hope and showed them how simple it could be to begin moving, one step and bite at a time, to a healthier life. Children and adults were introduced to healthy foods they had never eaten before and thanks to our friends at Sesame Workshop the children were able to spend memorable time with Cookie Monster, not just a favorite character but a hero and a friend. His long journey to meet them symbolized what the whole event was designed to show them –   that people in and outside of the community cared about them, their happiness and their future.

At NFESH we are dedicated to ending senior hunger, and we know that the best way to end senior hunger is to prevent it in the first place. By educating children about balanced meals and how to read nutrition labels and unit pricing, we are giving them the tools and knowledge they need to make healthy and budget-friendly purchasing decisions when they get older. Sesame Street’s multimedia outreach initiative Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget was given to every family at the event. Parents and children were extremely grateful to receive this kit designed to help support families who have children between the ages of two and eight, cope with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food. The grandparents were thankful for the educational materials, and the children were excited to have a book that showed Cookie Monster’s friends. The families also received Sesame Street’s Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me kit.

With every trip to McDowell, we leave a little piece of our hearts behind. We have seen the poverty and despair, but we have also seen the impact our projects have on the people, and we are committed to helping the people of the County. This would not be possible without the incredible support we’ve received from our partners. Sesame Workshop has provided the families of McDowell County with more than just tools to help the children learn to lead healthier lives; the families have been given a memory they will carry with them for years. And that’s a reason to smile.

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May 29, 2014

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Sesame Workshop’s 12th Annual Gala Honoring Joan Ganz Cooney

By Sesame Workshop


Last night, Sesame Workshop honored Joan Ganz Cooney, co-creator of Sesame Street and co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), for her lifelong efforts to improve the lives of children around the world at its 12th annual benefit gala. Sesame Street’s Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Abby and Big Bird hosted the event at Cipriani 42nd Street which included special appearances by Diane Sawyer and Cheryl Henson, and video tributes from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama.  The evening concluded with a musical performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Michael Bublé, performing “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Young at Heart,” and the Sesame Street classic “Sing” with the Muppets.

We are honored to recognize Mrs. Cooney for her contribution as the co-creator of Sesame Street, the award-winning children’s educational TV show. With the belief that television could help children learn, Mrs. Cooney and her colleagues launched a program that revolutionized television, dramatically impacted pre-school education and changed millions of lives for the better. Four decades later, her legacy continues. Today, Sesame Workshop has become the single largest informal educator of young children around the world.  Using the power of media, Sesame Street engages children in 150 countries by teaching literacy and numeracy, as well as crucial lessons about health, emotional well-being and respect and understanding.

Mrs. Cooney began her career as a journalist in her hometown of Phoenix before moving to New York City to become a public affairs producer for WNDT (now WNET). While there, she led a study for the Carnegie Corporation titled, “The Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education.” That groundbreaking research paved the way for the debut of Sesame Street in 1969.

Forty-five years later, Mrs. Cooney’s contribution to children’s education continues. She is currently Chair of the Executive Committee of Sesame Workshop’s Board of Trustees and in 2007, she established the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an innovative nonprofit research organization dedicated to advancing children’s literacy skills through digital media. In addition, the Public Preparatory Network recently announced that they are launching the Joan Ganz Cooney Early Learning Program, a tuition-free, all-day pre-K program for four-year olds in the South Bronx.

Joan has been the heart and soul of Sesame Workshop for the past 45 years. Thanks to her vision, Sesame Street has helped millions of children around the globe grow up smarter, stronger and kinder.

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January 30, 2014

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Join us LIVE for Elmo’s Birthday Monday Evening!

By Sesame Workshop


Guess who is celebrating a birthday on Monday, February 3rd? That’s right, Elmo! And he wants to celebrate it with you! At 7 PM ET,  Elmo will be appearing LIVE via Spreecast! And you’re invited!

 

Where: Via this Link

When: 7:00 PM Eastern Time on Monday, February 3rd  for 30 to 45 minutes.

Who: You, and bring your kids, too!

We’ll see you there!

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January 28, 2014

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Celebrating the Lunar New Year

By Sesame Workshop


China is celebrating the Lunar New Year at the end of January, and Sesame Workshop is excited to celebrate too! That’s why we teamed up with China’s CCTV Children’s Channel to help produce 10 short segments called “Let’s Celebrate New Year!” to encourage children learn more about special traditions and customs, and hear legendary stories.

Each segment stars the Muppets from Sesame Street’s Big Bird Looks at the World, the Chinese version of Sesame Street, and a host from one of the many popular CCTV children’s programs. Together with Elmo and Lily, the host explains things like why dumplings are eaten at New Year’s, why it’s customary to wear red, and why it’s significant that 2014 is the Year of the Horse.  The segments will air on CCTV throughout January and February.

Sesame Workshop and CCTV had a thirty-year history of working together. In 1983, we collaborated to produce Big Bird in China, which was the first time a Sesame Street Muppet traveled to China. Now, decades later, we’re getting together, again, as we continue to educate and inspire the children of China.

To learn more about all the ways Sesame Workshop helps children in China reach their full potential, click here.

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October 30, 2013

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Beloved Sesame Street Characters to Promote Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption to Kids

By Sesame Workshop


Sesame Workshop and Produce Marketing Association joined the Partnership for a Healthier America to help make healthier choices easier for families

WASHINGTON, DC—First Lady Michelle Obama today announced that Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for parents and families to make.

The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to take advantage of the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee, using characters like Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables. Sesame Street characters may be on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.

“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said First Lady Michelle Obama today. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.

In her remarks, the First Lady referenced a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine conducted by researchers at Cornell University. Researchers gave kids a choice between eating an apple, a cookie, or both and the vast majority of the kids chose the cookies. But when the researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let the kids choose again, nearly double the number of kids went for the apple.

“It’s no secret that many parents have a hard time getting kids excited about eating their fruits and vegetables,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “Today’s commitment helps all of us promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and gives parents and families a powerful, positive tool to help kids get excited about eating healthier foods.”

PHA works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to broker meaningful private sector commitments to ending the childhood obesity epidemic.

As part of its commitment to PHA, Sesame Workshop will:

  • Work with PMA to enable PMA and its community of growers, suppliers and retailers to utilize the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand and characters to deliver a message of encouragement for young children and their families to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Provide a license to PMA free of charge for two years following launch of the program to make approved uses of the Sesame Street Muppet characters and elements of Sesame Workshop’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative when used to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Enable PMA, through the license agreement, to provide access to, and oversee use of the Sesame Workshop assets by the PMA community; and,
  • Create a “produce promotion toolkit” and style guide to facilitate use of the Sesame Workshop assets in promotional activities. 

“Sesame Workshop has long been committed to the health and well-being of children through our longstanding Healthy Habits for Life initiative—since 2004, we have been integrating messages about healthy food choices and exercise into Sesame Street, the television program, in our community outreach and on our other off-air activities,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop.  “We are proud to work with the Produce Marketing Association and Partnership for a Healthier America to continue this important work.”

PMA will:

  • Review all requests by its growers, suppliers and retailers for Sesame Workshop assets for use in the promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables and permit use only on eligible products and according to the terms of the license agreement between Sesame Workshop and PMA;
  • Provide assistance and widely promote the opportunity to participate in the Sesame Workshop licensing program; and
  • Share with PHA the results over a two-year period from the Performance Start Date, with metrics including number of products given Sesame Workshop assets through the program, number of companies participating and estimated sales impact.

“One of the key challenges we face is competing for share of mind and share of plate,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission and immediate past chairman of PMA’s board of directors. “Other food marketers – companies who have seemingly endless budgets enabling them to position and sell their products, especially to kids – are steep competition. As a parent whose kids grew up with the Sesame Street characters, I’m thrilled to be a part of a program that will give the produce industry additional marketing opportunities for our naturally healthful products. The power of the Sesame Street brand is undeniable, especially given the trust parents have in it.”

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.

Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at www.sesameworkshop.org.

Media contacts:

Elly Spinweber, PHA
202.864.6053, news@ahealthieramerica.org

Meg Miller, PMA
302.607.2131, mmiller@pma.com

Beatrice Chow, Sesame Workshop
212.875.6586

rostitaandelmo

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October 30, 2013

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Remembering Jerry Nelson

By Sesame Workshop


An original work of art by Carroll Spinney. Carroll plays the iconic Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch

Jerry Nelson, best known as the puppeteer of the iconic Count von Count, Herry Monster, Fat Blue, the Amazing Mumford and many more was a beloved member of the Sesame Street family for over 40 years. In a testament to the lasting impact his humor and talent made on the Sesame Street cast and crew, cast members Emilio Delgado and Sonia Manzano and puppeteer Fran Brill graciously offered remembrances of Jerry’s life and work. In addition puppeteer Carroll Spinney, best known for his work as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, drew an original work of art commemorating some of Jerry’s most famous characters.

On Thursday, Oct. 31, Sesame Street will honor his memory by airing a special Count Von Count episode. We hope you will tune in and celebrate the life and work of a man who holds a special place in the hearts of the entire Sesame Street family.  Read More

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October 24, 2013

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Vote for Elmo’s Halloween Costume!

By Sesame Workshop


Halloween is fast approaching, and Elmo is so excited! But he can’t decide what to dress up as! Can you help? He’s narrowed it down to three choices — a cowboy, a pizza-loving astronaut, and a circus clown. Vote below for your favorite!

Cowboy Elmo

Astronaut Elmo

Circus Elmo

online poll by Opinion Stage

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September 20, 2013

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Oops.

By Sesame Workshop


From September 13th to 15th, we intended to run a special three-day sale in the iTunes App Store. “Intended” is the operative word there, because we made a mistake somehow. Everything went wrong, Sesame Street Muppet chickens went crazy, Telly lost his triangle, Cookie Monster ran out of cookies, and most importantly, the three day sale only lasted two days. The Count is very upset with us — he really wanted to count to three! (ah ha ha).

So to make it up to him (and all of you who thought you were getting discounted stuff, but weren’t), tomorrow, Saturday September 21st, we’re running a one-day, line-wide, Sesame Street app sale! Click here to open the iTunes App Store and see all of our apps!

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