Milton Hershey School Announces Derry Township Site for First Cost-Free Early Childhood Resource Center
Milton Hershey School (MHS) has announced that it plans to build the first Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC) of its Early Children Education Initiative in Derry Township. The location will be on the MHS campus on the southwest corner of Governor Road and Homestead Road. The cost-free Center will accommodate 150 students from birth to age 5 from economically disadvantaged and at-risk backgrounds.
The planned two-story, 50,827-square-foot building, which will include an outdoor learning area, is part of a $350 million initiative to fund the development of up to six cost-free ECRCs across Pennsylvania. These Centers will operate through subsidiaries of Milton Hershey School, independent of the MHS core model. The Center will provide a core early learning program with a curriculum designed to enhance students’ educational, social, emotional, and cognitive development. It also will provide students with nutritious meals, transportation, and other needed supplies. Importantly, the Early Childhood Resource Center will offer integrated support services to families of enrolled children.
“We are thrilled to begin this new chapter in MHS history in our own backyard,” said Pete G. Gurt ’85, Milton Hershey School President and himself an alumnus. “Our expansion into early childhood education will allow us to help even more children from poverty reach their full potential, and we look forward to beginning work on the site.”
There is a critical and growing need for early childhood education locally and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Research has found that quality early childhood education can narrow the kindergarten-readiness gap between low-income and higher-income students.
The Hershey Trust Company and Milton Hershey School recently filed a conditional use application with Derry Township for the site. The Derry Township Planning Commission unanimously approved a motion recommending approval of the application to the Derry Township Board of Supervisors. The Derry Township Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing on Jan. 26 to render its decision. Pending approval, the Center’s land development plan will be submitted.
This ECRC is expected to have 80 employees and volunteers and is tentatively scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Completion of the Center is expected in 2023 and employee recruitment will begin later this year.