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The first Benefit Gala in 2003.

The Annual Sesame Workshop Benefit Gala is held at the Cipriani in New York City. Sesame Workshop hosts the evening as a fundraising event, and to honor outstanding individuals around the world who have contributed to education.

2003, 35th Anniversary



  • Date - June 1, 2005
  • Host - Barbara Walters
  • Honored - Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan and Stan O’Neal (Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch and Co., Inc.) "for creating educational opportunities around the globe."
  • Attendees - Vanessa Williams and New York Post gossip journalist Liz Smith.
  • Muppets - Elmo, Tonton (Heather Asch)



Sesame Workshop honours UNICEF Executive Director Ann M....


  • Date - May 30, 2007
  • Host - Matt Lauer
  • Honored - Laura Bush and James E. Rohr, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., "for PNC's 10-year, $100 million investment to improve access and quality of early childhood education to benefit children and communities."
  • Attendees - Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush, Brian Stokes Mitchell
  • Muppets - Elmo, Rosita, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby


2009, 40th Anniversary



Elvis Costello performed "Alison" with the Muppets. Stephanie D'Abruzzo served as announcer for the proceedings.

Cookie Monster was quoted as: "Cookie is a sometime food and vegetables is an everything food, so me just eat three centerpieces. But me hope cookies for dessert!" The centerpieces were made of yellow peppers and green apples.[1]


The Muppeteers and their characters perform "Sing" and "We Are the World".


The PS22 chorus performed "Ho Hey" and "Wonderwall." The hosts then performed "Sing" with the PS 22 chorus and the Sesame Street cast.



  • Date - May 27, 2015
  • Hosts - Nancy O'Dell and the Sesame Street Muppets
  • Muppets - Bert (John Kennedy), Elmo, Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Murray Monster, Ernie, Rosita, Cookie Monster, Grover, Count von Count, Segi, Kami, Raya
  • Honoring - United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, and Google
  • Musical guest Sara Bareilles


  • Date - June 2, 2016
  • Hosts - John Oliver and the Sesame Street Muppets
  • Muppets - Elmo, Telly, Cookie Monster (Peter Linz), Grover, The Count, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird
  • Honoring - Exceptional Minds, IBM
  • Musical guest Charlie Puth performed his song "One Call Away," as well as James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend."



2019, 50th Anniversary


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefit gala was instead a prerecorded event and was streamed online for donors on June 2. The program was then made availible to stream for free to the general public between June 6 and 30.[3]

The program was directed by Ken Diego, and written by Joey Mazzarino.