Education is often a luxury, rather than a lifeline, in many humanitarian settings. Learn how one organization is helping to reverse the trend.

"The fact that the average duration of displacement is 10 years will tell you that keeping people alive isn’t enough,” says David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), describing the global refugee crisis. “We actually have to help them thrive."

This imperative is key to Sesame Seeds, an early childhood development program created by the IRC and Sesame Workshop. Using iconic characters from the Sesame Street children’s show, Sesame Seeds has helped educate and comfort millions of children displaced by the Syrian War. It has also drawn widespread support from the larger philanthropic community—including a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, in 2017, to further its efforts throughout in the Middle East. 

But the program’s impact thus far hasn’t made its ultimate goals any less urgent. “Our approach is to create a blueprint for the larger humanitarian crisis, focusing on the youngest refugees,” explains Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop. “We believe that this is a critical point in history— and history will judge us on how we respond to this crisis.”  

Here, in a panel discussion hosted by The Philanthropy Centre at J.P. Morgan, leaders from the IRC and Sesame Workshop discuss the effects of the refugee crisis and how they’re innovating to improve outcomes for a generation in need.

Innovations in children's education

Why are children particularly vulnerable to the stress of displacement? Sherri Westin, Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, and David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, give individual presentations on this issue and more.

The Philanthropy Centre at J.P. Morgan provides strategic advice and insights to clients and their families to help enhance their philanthropic impact. For many of our clients, creating positive social change and leaving a philanthropic legacy are critical components of their overall wealth management plan. J.P. Morgan Private Bank has over 200 years of experience serving as investment manager, fiduciary and/or philanthropy advisor to many leading charitable institutions and philanthropists around the world.

David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs in 28 United States cities.

Sherrie Rollins Westin is Executive Vice President, Global Impact and Philanthropy, for Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street. She leads the Workshop’s efforts to serve vulnerable children through mass media and targeted initiatives in the United States and around the world.