Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that has produced Sesame Street since 1969, has announced the creation of Sesame Ventures, an internal team that will work with venture capital firms to make investments in start-ups that will support the non-profit’s stated causes.
Sesame Ventures has revealed its first partner to be the Collaborative Fund, forming a union called Collab+Sesame Fund. According to Julia Greenberg of Wired, the Collaborative Fund will manage the organization and Sesame Ventures will play a large part in choosing start-ups, in addition to offering insight and experience. Entrepreneurs who are chosen to receive funding will also get to work with Sesame Workshop executives and have the option to use the characters and brand if they wish. Sesame Ventures was clear that their focus is not on advertising their brand, but rather helping these companies grow by using the Sesame Street legacy if they so choose.
Possible start-up choices may include companies that encourage healthy eating and exercise habits, childhood development, or education, though none have been chosen yet. According to the Collaborative Fund’s founder and managing partner Craig Shapiro, the partnership aims to make ten investments over the next three years, reports Tony Wan of EdSurge — and the sooner the better.
This is not the organization’s first partnership: Sesame Workshop paired up with Nickelodeon in 1999 to launch Noggin, the first completely educational cable channel aimed at children, writes Sarah Kessler of Fast Company. It also created Sprout, a channel for pre-school age children, in a 2005 collaboration with PBS, HIT Television Ventures, and NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group. It has since sold its stake in both channels, in 2002 and 2012 respectively. Noggin is now known as Nick Jr.
This new move is part of Sesame Workshop’s continued efforts to reach young children as well as it has for the last five decades, which includes creating content to appeal in the digital age. Around two-thirds of kids are introduced to the classic show through a digital source, writes Lauren Keating of Tech Times, like the PBS Kids video app, the show’s official YouTube channel, or HBO GO (which recently partnered up with the show). The organization hopes that working with new companies and fresh ideas will help them reach out to a new generation in effective ways and continue its mission of improving the lives of children through education.
Sesame Workshop CEO and President Jeffrey Dunn said:
“As a non-profit, our success is measured by our global impact on kids’ lives. Sesame Street was the original disruptor in kids’ media, and we have a 45-year history of being a creative workshop dedicated to breaking new ground. We are in the midst of an extraordinary time in the history of how digital technology can change the education, health, and welfare of kids around the world. History suggests that much of that change will spring from new companies. By partnering with some of these start-ups, Sesame Workshop can help grow the next wave of kid-focused innovation and improve the lives of children everywhere.”