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Sesame Workshop and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Announce Free Storybook and Resources Developed through Expanded Early Literacy Initiative for Young Children

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Sesame Workshop and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Announce Free Storybook and Resources Developed through Expanded Early Literacy Initiative for Young Children


(New York, NY – September 14, 2017) – Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), a nonprofit organization that unites the insurance industry to help communities and enrich lives through grants, volunteer service and leadership, today announced the launch of new resources – including the distribution of 100,000 printed copies of the Book Buddies storybook – to address the critical issue of early literacy development, particularly in underserved communities. Today’s announcement builds upon the Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day program developed through IICF’s Early Literacy Initiative and in partnership with Sesame Workshop, to support childhood literacy by delivering free research-based, multimedia resources to the communities who need them most.

New Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day resources released today include:

  • Book Buddies, an engaging, illustrated storybook featuring Bert and Ernie telling a story and making a book, available in English and Spanish. Key literacy principles are integrated within the book to help parents, caregivers and providers practice storytelling skills. 100,000 printed storybooks will be distributed for free to children in underserved communities through schools, libraries and children’s organizations across the US and UK, and through IICF volunteer-organized literacy events.
  • The Building a Reader free online professional development course for early childhood educators to increase capacity-building and knowledge around early literacy and family engagement. Launched this month, the interactive, online course includes ways to engage young children in exploring key literacy goals, strategies and activities to support an early learning curriculum, and tools to connect with parents around those same language and literacy objectives.
  • A volunteer webinar developed for IICF’s extensive network of volunteers, designed to provide guidance on how best to use Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day materials as they volunteer in their communities.

Featuring the lovable Sesame Street Muppets™, these resources, available in English and Spanish, encourage young children and the caring adults in their lives to make the most of everyday opportunities to talk, read and write together. During the IICF Week of Giving from October 14-21, 2017, IICF volunteers will lead early literacy events across the US and UK, using Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day resources to engage young participants. Events in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and London will feature Sesame Street walkaround characters including Elmo, Abby and Cookie Monster.

“This initiative began in 2013 with IICF’s partnership with Sesame Workshop, and through IICF’s industry-wide network of insurance professionals and their desire to unite and make an impact in their communities,” said Bill Ross, CEO of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation. “Joining together, our goal is to help every young child learn to read and write – regardless of their economic situation.”

Literacy remains a crisis in underserved communities. Research shows that early literacy skills lay the foundation of future academic achievement, and access to books is a consistent predictor of reading skills. Yet, in low-income neighborhoods in the United States, findings show there is on average of only one book per 300 children, compared to 13 books per child in middle-income neighborhoods.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with IICF to address the critical role of early literacy development and make an impact in the communities who need us most,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “With a growing need for access to quality resources and community support, Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day gives parents, caregivers, and volunteers the tools they need to encourage a child’s love of reading. By giving young children opportunities to develop language and literacy skills alongside the caring adults in their lives, we can set children on a path for success.”

IICF’s Early Literacy Initiative aims to bridge the gap in literacy rates that prevails between children of middle and high-income families and the most vulnerable children in lower income households by fostering a love and proficiency of learning, reading and writing from an early age – all with the help of Sesame Street friends.

All resources, including games, activities, and tips for parents, caregivers and volunteers are free and available at www.sesamestreet.org/literacy. For information on Book Buddies or how to access the new volunteer webinar and Building a Reader course, please contact Sarah Conway, IICF Early Literacy Initiative National Manager, at sconway@iicf.com.

Continuing with their initial success, IICF and Sesame Workshop renewed their partnership in the beginning of 2017. The Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day program is made possible through an IICF grant to Sesame Workshop that is funded primarily from proceeds generated by the IICF Women in Insurance Conference Series.

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About Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re active in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit sesameworkshop.org.

About IICF
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) is a unique nonprofit that unites the collective strengths of the insurance industry to help communities and enrich lives through grants, volunteer service and leadership. Established in 1994, IICF has contributed more than $28.7 million in community grants, along with over 240,500 volunteer hours, to hundreds of charities and nonprofit organizations.  IICF reinvests locally where funds are raised for greatest community impact.  IICF is a registered nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Learn more at www.iicf.org.


Press Contacts:
Hallie Ruvin
Sesame Workshop, New York
(212) 875-6344
Hallie.ruvin@sesame.org

Alisa Breese
Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation
(949) 481-3741
abreese@iicf.com

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