"The ability to make careful choices, plan, and save is essential for positive health, education, and overall life outcomes. As with so many other critical life skills, establishing a foundation for these abilities in the earliest years is essential to build positive lifelong habits."
Launched in October 2013, this 5-year multimedia initiative intends to cultivate financial empowerment knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours among families with young children in both developed and developing countries around the world. Sesame Workshop, the organisation behind Sesame Street, is collaborating with MetLife Foundation to reach families with messages to promote financial inclusion and build financial empowerment with the intent of helping families save and be prepared for the future and potential setbacks in Brazil, India, Mexico, China, Japan, Argentina, Chile, Bangladesh, South Korea, Poland, and Turkey. The initiative is designed to reach young children and their families (in particular, the head of household/women) and provide engaging Sesame Street content, language for discussion, and strategies for spending, saving, sharing, and donating.
Sesame Workshop's approach is to incorporate financial empowerment-related activities into daily routines and practices, facilitating open communication and interaction between children and adults via multiple platforms relevant for each country. These platforms include digital media, television/radio broadcast content (including public service announcements), mobile community viewings, user-generated content, caregiver and educator guides, local events and seminars, and employee and volunteer engagement opportunities. "Our approach to financial empowerment will not only improve and strengthen financial behaviors but will also provide valuable information and skills that address the needs of the whole child and help families and children be better prepared for the future and potential setbacks."
Research and advice from global and local experts have been used to drive the creation of messages and to gauge reach, understanding, and educational and social impact. Sesame Workshop commissioned MediaKidz to conduct needs assessment and formative research of video and print materials in Brazil, China, India, and Mexico. The Sesame Workshop teams made ongoing refinements to the content in response to the research findings. A summative evaluation of the initiative is also planned for the coming years.
Children, Economic Development.
MetLife Foundation and Sesame Workshop worked together to build a coalition of global and local advisors and specialists to inform content development. Financial empowerment was determined to have 3 core elements: (i) "Having a positive attitude including confidence and aspirations."; (ii) "Knowing behaviors related to self-regulation and executive function (conscious control of thoughts, feelings and actions) that can help set, plan and achieve goals."; (iii) "Having the knowledge and information needed to achieve financial empowerment and reach one's goals."
Organisers assert that the benefit of acquiring financial skills and behaviours goes beyond economic impact. "The skills of setting goals, planning, and making selective choices are applicable to healthy habits such as practicing good hygiene and eating nutritiously. In addition, building financial reserves can lift a barrier to accessing high quality education." They also state that, as of 2012, 2.5 billion people do not have an account with a formal financial institution. Approximately three-quarters of the economically poorest and most vulnerable populations do not have access to formal banking systems.
"The gender gap in savings behaviour (46% of adult men in the developing world have an account, vs. only 37% of women) is yet another associated social impact. However, studies show that when women control the household income and savings, it is more likely that the money will be used toward family-targeted purchasing (such as household appliances) which benefit all members of the home. These findings points to the need for targeted financial empowerment messaging and resources for female caregivers and the potential impact of improved financial skills among women on families and children."
Sesame Workshop with support from MetLife Foundation.
Emails from June Lee to The Communication Initiative on June 5 2015 and June 30 2015. "Sesame Street" excerpts provided courtesy of Sesame Workshop (New York, New York) © 2015 Sesame Workshop. "Sesame Street" ® and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.