Here at The Hershey Company, we often think about how the smallest gestures can be the most powerful ones: the stories our consumers tell us about how our products show up in small yet meaningful ways give us endless inspiration – and fuels the meaning behind our corporate purpose: “making more moments of goodness.” Whether it’s friends separated by the pandemic who text pictures of Hershey Kisses to each other, families creating weekend S’mores traditions, or that feeling of taking a bite out of a Reese’s cup after getting a long-awaited vaccine shot – we’re here for all of it.
Just as small moments can have an outsized impact – our company has also believed that our youngest community members have an outsized impact on our world. Our founder believed in the importance of younger generations so much so that he founded the Milton Hershey School, leaving his entire fortune, including his shares of The Hershey Company, to a trust established to benefit the school. Today, the school serves more than 2,000 students annually.
Today, Hershey also celebrates young people who are leading the way in creating a better world through our social impact program, The Heartwarming Project. As part of our commitment to helping youth thrive, The Heartwarming Project invests in programs that help youth connect in meaningful ways with their communities – because building these connections in turn builds critical social emotional skills and improves well-being for young people.
This year, we are proudly sponsoring Global Youth Service Day, the largest youth service event in the world, celebrated in all 50 U.S. states and over 100 countries. We’ve partnered with Youth Service America to award up to $50,000 in grants to young people leading Global Youth Service Day projects focused on advancing inclusion, empathy, and kindness in their communities. We recently awarded these grants to more than 135 young people who will put their project ideas into action on April 23 – 25.
We are also thrilled to sponsor the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Keystone Club Project. This year, more than 25,000 Keystone Club teens are leading projects in their communities, all focused on a central theme selected by youth: There is No Planet B. These teens are coming together to assess environmental issues where they live, brainstorm solutions, and develop a plan of action. While stories of impact are just beginning to roll in, we’ve learned that several are organizing local clean-ups, establishing recycling programs, and educating their peers more eco-friendly buying habits. Having just celebrated Earth Day and made our own corporate commitments, we’re thrilled to help elevate youth action on the environment.
We’re also excited to continue support for the Heartwarming Project Action Grants Program. In 2020, we awarded $250 grants to nearly 500 teens who saw their communities struggling with connection and inclusion throughout the pandemic and took action in incredible ways: They created free grocery delivery services for senior citizens, launched film festivals to share untold stories of diversity, hosted conversations to bridge divides and build understanding, used art to connect with isolated community members, created online tutoring programs for their peers—among countless other heartwarming and impactful actions. We’re excited to announce that this program re-opens on April 28th in conjunction with our nonprofit partner WE.
When it comes to young people taking action for a better world – we’re all in. We want to celebrate the young people leading the way. We want to elevate their voices. And we want to invest in their ideas. Because the research is clear: when young people create meaningful connections with one another and their communities, their own social emotional skills, academic performance, and mental well-being improve. And, the world we all share benefits and improves as well. And I think we can all agree: there is an outsized impact to that.