Generations of kids have grown up watching Sesame Street, learning along with Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch … but did you know that we’re much more than a television show? We’re also an independent nonprofit on a simple but critical mission: help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.
For almost 50 years, we’ve brought learning and laughter to children around the world – with the help of a passionate community of supporters. Today, we’re asking that community to join us as we try something new: our first-ever crowdfunding campaign! With your help, we can expand our autism initiative to tackle bullying prevention.
Crowdfunding lets people like you make a big difference for causes you care about. New to Kickstarter? You're in good company. Around the world, over 14 million people have contributed to all kinds of Kickstarter projects. To fund this anti-bullying project, we need to raise $75,000 in about thirty days. When you make a pledge, you're promising to help us reach that goal. But we can only accept the donations – and start the work – if we can raise the money by Friday, May 11th. Let's get started!
Sesame’s autism work has already been making a splash. We created Julia, the first Sesame Street Muppet with autism, as a digital-only storybook character in 2015. Readers loved her so much that we brought her to life on the broadcast show last April.
Julia’s television debut was greeted with hundreds of media stories and millions of social media impressions, but the biggest marker of our success was the overwhelming response from the autism community and beyond. Parents say their autistic children have more playdates because of Julia. Teachers report that their students are more inclusive in their play. One mother told us that she used the first Julia storybook to explain to her daughter that she, too, has autism. Her daughter responded, “So I’m amazing too, right?”
An estimated one in 68 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum. While the diagnosis is common, public understanding of autism is not. Research shows that children with autism are five times more likely to be bullied than their neurotypical peers.
In storybooks, articles, videos, and Sesame Street episodes, we’ve worked to support families of autistic children and reduce the isolating stigmas and misconceptions that still surround autism. But now, we’re at a critical turning point. The Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children initiative has made great strides with support from our existing partners, but to tackle the next big topic – how to prevent bullying by fostering empathy and compassion – we need you.
We’ve mapped out a multi-step plan to address bullying as it affects the autism community – starting with an enhanced digital storybook. Drawing on an extensive body of research, we’ll create a kid-appropriate story about understanding differences using everyday activities and play. Like our other Julia storybooks, it will offer parents and caregivers a safe and accessible starting point for deeper conversations with their children.
Contributions to the campaign will fund:
Rigorous work with expert advisers across some of the 250 autism organizations that helped us build the See Amazing initiative, ensuring that we’re telling the right story in the right way
Writing, editing, and illustrating an uplifting story that models inclusive play, starring the beloved Sesame Street Muppets
Supplementary materials for kids and adults, including articles for parents and caregivers that will address bullying in a direct and empowering way
Recording sessions with the Sesame Street cast to provide audio for the digital storybook
- Translation work and additional recording sessions to version the storybook, articles, and other materials in Spanish (and potentially other languages) adjusting for cultural and linguistic nuances
Our initial goal of $75,000 will allow us to do the above. But there's more we can do, too. If we reach our first stretch goal — $150,000 — we’ll be able to create a printed storybook version of the story that we’ll distribute free of charge to 40,000 kids via our growing network of partner organizations. We’ll get all these resources in the hands of kids and families by April 2019.
Wondering if this project is funded by HBO or PBS? The simple answer is: no. We’ve always been a completely independent nonprofit organization. Distribution partners like HBO, PBS, and YouTube help us make Sesame Street available to kids and families everywhere. We’re sustained by a combination of donations, grants, and licensing revenue from toys and products, all of which we reinvest to create more Sesame Street programming and resources. Initiatives like See Amazing in All Children are only possible because of charitable giving from members of our community who love what we do.
All our work is grounded in research – especially when we’re entering sensitive spaces like bullying in the autism community – and produced with the rigor and care that generations of parents have come to trust.
By contributing to this Kickstarter campaign, supporting the Sesame Street Yellow Feather Fund, or spreading the word on social media, you’ll join a proud tradition of helping amazing kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.
We know you’re supporting our Kickstarter campaign because you want to help children – and we appreciate you! As a token of our thanks, we’ve lined up some great rewards:
$10 pledge: Early download access to the new Julia storybook, plus a printable activity sheet.
$15 pledge: Digital wallpaper pack featuring original Julia art, optimized for desktop, laptop and phone, plus everything from the $10 level.
$25 pledge: Digital wallpaper pack featuring 8-bit art of classic Sesame characters, optimized for desktop, laptop, and phone, plus everything from the $15 level.
$50 pledge: Printed version of Julia’s debut storybook, We’re Amazing 1,2,3!, (seen above), just like the ones we distribute to our partner organizations, plus everything from the $25 level. (Limited to 1,000 backers.)
$100 pledge: Limited-availability Julia plush doll (seen above) plus everything from the $50 level. (Limited to 500 backers.)
$100 pledge: A signed picture of Big Bird plus everything from the $50 level. (Limited to 500 backers.)
$100 pledge: Courtesy of our friends at Sesame Place, you'll receive three trading pins. (Characters will be selected at random; limited to 50 backers.)
We sold out of this reward at the $100 level, but we were able to acquire more!
$125 pledge: Signed copy of The Joy of Cookies, Cookie Monster’s new book of cookie-themed wit and wisdom (seen above), plus everything from the $50 level. (Limited to 500 backers.)
$125 pledge: A small Big Bird clutch -- it's big enough to carry a phone and some other essentials. You'll also get everything from the $50 level. (Limited to 100 backers.)
$150 pledge: A large Big Bird clutch -- it's big enough to carry a small laptop snugly. You'll also get everything from the $50 level. (Limited to 25 backers.)
$500 Pledge: You'll get up to four tickets to Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA -- as well as a Julia plush, Cookie Monster's book, a signed picture of Big Bird, and more! (Limited to 10 backers)
$3,000 pledge: Personal thank-you video from Julia and a Sesame Street friend, plus everything from the $100 level. (Limited to five backers.)
$5,000 pledge: Hand-drawn portrait of you or your children with Julia or another Sesame Street character of your choice, plus everything from the $100 level. (Limited to two backers.)
The Sesame Street Yellow Feather Fund helps bring education to children in need. We’re part of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street. For almost fifty years, Sesame Workshop has been delivering research-based educational content to kids and families around the world, using the power of media and our beloved Sesame Street Muppets to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. With the Sesame Street Yellow Feather Fund, we connect with a passionate community of individual fans and families who want to help us make a difference!
For more information, please visit www.yellowfeatherfund.org.
Risks and challenges
Regardless of whether our campaign goal is met, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children will keep serving kids and families in the autism community and beyond. But we need additional funding to produce new content and reach more families. Without your support, we may not be able to create these much-needed anti-bullying resources; we certainly wouldn’t be able to get them in families’ hands so quickly without your help.
When funded, we’ll be in great shape to deliver these resources and rewards. We shouldn’t face any significant challenges in creating and delivering this new content once we reach our campaign goal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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