The nonprofit behind the children’s television show Sesame Street received $100 million in grant money to help Syrian refugee children.
The MacArthur Foundation awarded the $100 million grant money to Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee to start a series of programming initiatives aimed at refugee children in the Middle East.
“This may be our most important initiative ever and we are humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in us,” Sesame Workshop President and CEO Jeffrey Dunn said in a statement. “These children are, arguably, the world’s most vulnerable and by improving their lives we create a more stable and secure world for us all.”
The grant will go towards producing a local version of Sesame Street for Syrian refugee children that would allow them to learn math, reading, language, and socioemotional skills. The foundation’s goal is to reach an estimated 9.4 million children and address the “toxic stress” many child refugees face.
“Embedded in the content, Sesame’s Muppets will model inclusion and respect, and gender equity, and they will provide engaging educational messages, always from a child’s perspective,” the release reads.
Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee also plan to incorporate home visits into the program, where representatives from the nonprofit would provide families with games, toys, picture books, and parenting resources.
The program would also financially support building child development centers in the area.
The press release states that Sesame Workshop has developed similar programs in India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, South Africa, and other locations.
Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee began testing the program on Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan in 2016.
To some degree, the program has been developed as a way to fight terrorist actors such as the Islamic State (ISIS) by educating children.
The Islamic State has a program of its own, designed to indoctrinate future militants for the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. Their “common core” consists of teaching math with bullets and grammar with guns through textbooks and phone apps created by the Islamic State.
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.