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Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning Breaks Ground in Harrisburg and Celebrates with Residents

Today, Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning (CHS) marked the groundbreaking of its Harrisburg location with an inaugural dig and community celebration. CHS Harrisburg, to be built at North 6th and Muench Streets, is CHS’ second Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC).

Participating in the inaugural dig were Harrisburg School District Superintendent Eric Turman and Harrisburg City Council President Danielle Bowers. They were joined by CHS and Milton Hershey School (MHS) leadership, including CHS Executive Director Senate Alexander, CHS and MHS President Pete Gurt, and MHS Board of Managers Chairwoman Diane Koken. Afterward, CHS celebrated with an open-to-the-public family-friendly event at nearby Harrisburg Bureau of Fire Station 1.

The event was also an opportunity to introduce CHS Harrisburg Center Director Malissa Doster, who brings extensive experience in early childhood education and a strong passion for serving children in need.

“It is a privilege to join the mission of Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning and advance its efforts to provide early childhood education and care to Harrisburg children,” said CHS Harrisburg Center Director Malissa Doster, “I am committed to leading a high-quality program that improves outcomes for children, sets their families up to thrive, and strengthens the overall community.”

Doster began her career at the Greater Morristown YMCA in New Jersey. She then moved to Ohio to serve as center director at the non-profit center, Creative World of Learning, and then as the executive director of Yellow Springs Community Children’s Center, also a non-profit.

“As CHS continues to grow, we look forward to serving children and families in their home community,” said CHS Executive Director Senate Alexander. “Furthermore, we are excited to collaborate with existing organizations to expand our collective impact in serving Harrisburg children and families.”

CHS Harrisburg, anticipated to open in 2024, is part of a $350 million initiative to initially develop six ECECs in the state as subsidiaries of MHS. It will serve 150 Harrisburg children from birth to age 5 from economically disadvantaged and at-risk backgrounds with all costs covered. The two other CHS Centers identified are CHS Hershey, which will open next year, and CHS Middletown, expected to open in 2025. The school’s Board of Managers will determine future locations based on further research and community analysis.

“These are exciting times as we get closer to joining the Harrisburg community after 113 years of serving children in need through quality education and care in Hershey,” said MHS and CHS President Pete Gurt. “As we expand our footprint in Pennsylvania, we remain focused on continuing the legacy of Milton and Catherine Hershey.”

The expansion of CHS into Harrisburg opens the opportunity for employment among the local workforce, as the Center is expected to have up to 80 employees. CHS is currently hiring an assistant director for the Harrisburg location, and future openings will be posted in the career section of the CHS website.


Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning will provide a cost-free educational, social, and cognitive program to children from birth to age 5 from economically disadvantaged and at-risk backgrounds, through the initial development of up to six Early Childhood Resource Centers across Pennsylvania. The Centers are subsidiaries of Milton Hershey School and will be staffed and operated independently of the Milton Hershey School core model. For more information, visit

Milton Hershey School is one of the world’s best private schools, where qualifying students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade live on campus and receive an exceptional educational experience—with all costs covered. For more information, visit

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.