Sesame Workshop is an educational force for change and social good— all around the world. We are a non-profit organization on a mission to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Early education is the solution to many of the world’s most challenging issues, and the key to giving every child a chance for success. Our social impact work focuses on the needs of the most vulnerable children by providing: Access to early education, Critical health lessons, and Tools for tough situations.

We reach children through local versions of Sesame Street using all forms of media— television, radio, mobile, as well as targeted interventions. We bring together local educators, advisors, and producers to ensure these efforts are tailored to the context and culture of each country. Using the power of media and our engaging characters, our educational programs reach little learners at the most important time in their development, when we can have the greatest impact. Our characters give children more than knowledge; they model the attitudes and behaviors children need to overcome obstacles and thrive.

And a substantial body of research proves we’re making a difference. Sesame Street is effective across countries and learning outcomes. What’s even more remarkable is the scale of this impact: Sesame reaches millions. None of this work would be possible without philanthropic support.

Access to Early Education

For generations, our landmark Sesame Street television show in the United States has taught children academic basics like literacy and numeracy, as well as the social-emotional skills they need to thrive. It was one of the core principles upon which the show was founded back in 1969: give disadvantaged children the same educational foundation that kids from more privileged homes had. Since then, we have brought the life-changing benefits of early learning to children all around the world, to countries where many children have little or no access to quality preschool education.

We know that in many parts of the world girls are disproportionately left behind. That’s why our  inspirational characters educate and empower young girls, giving them the tools to succeed in school and life. Through the joyous example of strong female role models, we help children— boys as well as girls—broaden their sense of a girl’s potential. Children who watch the Afghan version of Sesame Street tested 29% higher on gender equity attitudes, and qualitative research cites fathers changing their minds about permitting their daughters to go to school after watching the program.

We see again and again the power of popular media and our engaging Muppet characters to open minds and change attitudes— planting the seeds for long-term societal change.

Critical Health Lessons

Local versions of Sesame Street and special educational interventions address a wide range of critical health issues in places where illness and disease prevent children from attending school and, worse, threaten millions of young lives.

We are tackling water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related illness with targeted programs in communities across Bangladesh, India, and sub-Saharan Africa. Teaching children simple behaviors, like hand washing and wearing shoes to the latrine, can prevent diarrheal disease, pneumonia, and other life-threatening conditions. What’s more, research shows that children often become the catalyst for their families and entire communities to take these healthy lessons to heart.

In South Africa, where even the very youngest are affected by issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, we have developed the first preschool curriculum for HIV/AIDS. On the local version of Sesame Street, Kami, a character who is HIV-positive, helps reduce the stigma and provides children and adults with a way to talk about HIV and AIDS— a necessary antidote to the silence, ignorance, and fear often surrounding the disease.

Tools for tough situations

Our targeted interventions provide help and hope to families facing serious challenges. In the United States, we have tackled tough topics like divorce, incarceration, and the loss of a loved one— topics that adults often find difficult to talk about with children. Adverse childhood experiences can severely limit a child’s development when left unaddressed. With the help of our engaging characters, we approach tough issues from a child’s perspective, building resiliency in the face of adversity, while giving caregivers new strategies to help children cope.

We are bringing the same approach to address the needs of refugee children and their families. More than 60 million people are displaced worldwide, and over half of them are children. There are few situations as tough on a young child as living in an area of conflict or being displaced from their home. The trauma and stress caused by exposure to violence, displacement, and neglect can have life-long repercussions.

Together with like-minded partners, we are providing invaluable early education to young refugee children. At the same time we provide strategies for parents, often stressed themselves, to better engage with their children in these difficult times. And just as important, our loveable Muppets add joy— doing what Sesame Street does so well, bringing laughter and learning to the children who need it most.