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American Essence Magazine Shares the Story of Milton Hershey School and its Philanthropic Founders

Unable to have children of their own, Milton and Catherine Hershey decided to leave a gift that would allow thousands of kids to achieve their dreams. In 1909, they founded Hershey Industrial School to educate and care for orphaned boys, giving their fortune to create a brighter future for those in need.

Today, now known as Milton Hershey School, a legacy of generosity lives on, with children from pre-K through grade 12 walking a path that breaks the cycle of poverty—for themselves and their families. As American Essence Magazine reports, this opportunity for so many kids is all due to the Hersheys’ incredible vision and philanthropy.

“If we had helped 100 children,” Milton S. Hershey famously once said, “it would have all been worthwhile.” In 2021, MHS alumni eclipsed 11,000.

“They always push you to do better [at MHS] because they want you to succeed,” said Josh Kelly, an MHS senior. Added Chris Cook, an MHS alumna and long-time teacher: “I would tell my kindergartners that they attend the best school in the whole wide world.”

Among its many advantages, what stands out about MHS is its whole child approach. The school provides a top-notch education, housing, food, clothing, medical, dental, and psychological care, and extracurricular activities at no charge to students and their families. This is what the Hersheys intended. While their wealthy 20th century contemporaries lived in opulence, the Hersheys stayed modest, using their affluence to help others. “After a man dies he cannot spend his money,” Milton S. Hershey said, “and it has been a pleasure for me to spend mine as I have done.”

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