Pilot for Syrian refugees wins US$100m grant

At the end of 2017, the MacArthur Foundation awarded a USD 100 million grant to Sesame Workshop and the IRC for joint work in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. This has created an exciting opportunity to use the learning from home visiting and multimedia pilots we had already funded to inform the effort to take these programmes to scale.

Considering young children’s needs in humanitarian response

Young children are commonly overlooked in humanitarian responses to crisis situations. Millions are at risk of not realising their development potential, as prolonged exposure to violence and stress has potentially long-lasting impacts on their health, learning and well-being. Yet much is known about how to build the resilience of these children and get them back on track.

Parents find it empowering to know what they can do to keep their children’s development on as normal a path as possible. This was shown by the strength of response to a questionnaire, distributed along with a one-page leaflet via a bakery:

‘I have been waiting for something useful like this after not finding anyone to answer my questions,’ writes one respondent.’

Moving Minds Alliance advocacy complements pilot projects

We worked to set up the Moving Minds Alliance, a coalition of foundations to help build the capacity of implementing agencies to deliver early child development services at scale, and to advocate for more funding and focus from bilateral and multilateral donors and host country governments. The alliance includes Open Society Foundations, ELMA Philanthropies, Comic Relief, Vitol Foundation and Jacobs Foundation.

Photo: Reem AlZumi/Plan International Jordan

We have also funded several partners – alongside the IRC and Sesame, also including Plan International and War Child – to develop and test cost-effective ways of incorporating parent coaching into humanitarian services. Over the next five years, the programme funded by the US$100m MacArthur grant aims to reach 9.4 million children via mass media, and 1.5 million through home-based and centre-based direct services. The broader goal is to create a model that can be adapted for humanitarian crises throughout the world.

Katie Murphy, the IRC’s Senior Technical Advisor in Early Childhood Development, says:

‘Support from the Bernard van Leer Foundation was instrumental in the inception phase of our partnership with Sesame and in the piloting of parenting programmes within the region – work that served as the foundation of our proposal and ultimately helped position us to win the MacArthur grant.’