Frequently Asked Questions
What is Milton Hershey School®?
Founded in 1909 by chocolate industrialist Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine, Milton Hershey School (MHS) is a home and school located in Hershey, PA. MHS serves children in financial and social need by providing them education, housing, food, medical and psychological health care, recreation opportunities, and clothing with no financial obligation to the family.
Originally, the School was founded to provide care for white orphan boys, and its first class consisted of just 10 students. Today, approximately 1,800 boys and girls of diverse backgrounds are served by the School through its mission: In keeping with Milton and Catherine Hershey's Deed of Trust, Milton Hershey School nurtures and educates children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Mr. Hershey once said, "If we helped a hundred children, it would have been all worthwhile." Over 100 years later, Milton Hershey School has more than 9,000 alumni nationwide.
What is the Deed of Trust?
The School's Deed of Trust is the legal document signed by Milton and Catherine Hershey in 1909 to establish the School. This Deed of Trust still guides the School today in providing a home and school to the children it serves. Amended twice by the Dauphin County Orphans Court to admit girls and minorities into the School, the Deed of Trust includes guidelines for management oversight, spending, admissions, and school programs. It also identifies the Board of Managers as the School's governing body.
What does the School mean by students of low income, limited resources, and social need?
To be eligible for enrollment, a child must come from a family of low income. The average total income of a family of 3.9 enrolling in August 2008-09 was $14,859. When making selection decisions, MHS also considers the quality of care a child receives in his or her home. If the care is inadequate, the child is considered to be in "social need." Social need may result from a variety of situations faced by the child's primary caregiver, including physical, mental, and emotional health problems; chemical addiction; or incarceration. The School stresses low income, limited resources, social need, and age-appropriate behavior when considering applicants.
Who attends Milton Hershey School?
Milton Hershey School admits boys and girls of any race, color, religion, nationality, and ethnic origin to all of the programs and activities made available to students of the School.
Children considered for admission must meet the following criteria:
- Come from a family of low income, limited resources, and social need
- Be from the ages of 4-15 years old
- Have the ability to learn
- Be free of serious emotional and behavioral problems that disrupt life in the classroom or the home
- Be able to take part in the School's program
- Be born in the United States
The School currently has more than 1,800 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Students come predominantly from PA (80%) and the mid-Atlantic region, and represent more than 34 states in the U.S. Approximately 43% of the students have siblings who also attend MHS. The ethnicity of the students is: 44% Caucasian; 27% African American; 15% Hispanic; 1% Asian; 13% Other (2008-09 statistics).
How is the School funded?
In 1909, Milton S. Hershey created the Milton Hershey School Trust to provide for the health, education, and welfare of the children at the School. Mr. Hershey appointed the Hershey Trust Company as its trustee to provide investment management and administration for the School Trust. Over his lifetime, Mr. Hershey transferred a bulk of his personal wealth into the School Trust. Because of the Hershey Trust Company's continued investment management of Milton Hershey's original funding, the School Trust's assets have grown to a value exceeding $7 billion today. The School always has been and continues to be funded through that Trust fund.
What is the educational program offered at MHS?
MHS has established three distinct Divisions to focus on students' needs during each developmental stage. Students begin their MHS experience in the appropriate Division, according to their ages, and continue to gain support and guidance as they grow and develop.
Educational programs are built around these three educational levels, or Divisions:
- Elementary Division - pre-K through grade 4
- Middle Division - grades 5-8
- Senior Division - grades 9-12
Throughout each Division, students learn age-appropriate educational and life skills with the support of adults in school, as well as the student home and extracurricular activities. As they grow, MHS students develop competencies in problem-solving, relationship building, and life skills, all while testing their areas of strength and challenge.
What is unique about the MHS "experience"?
To provide for the educational, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth of each student, MHS has established three areas to integrate the work of each educational level (Elementary, Middle, and Senior Divisions).
These areas include:
- Applied and Integrated Learning - provides for a combination of learning and life experiences to prepare students for success following graduation (Examples: Agricultural and Environmental Education, Learning Technologies, Independent Living)
- Student Character & Leadership - focuses on developing social, emotional, spiritual, and physical health (Examples: Student Government Association, Student Programs, and Student Spiritual Life)
- Student Health Services - ensures quality student health in all three Divisions (Examples: Medical, Dental, Psychological and Social Work Services)
Working in conjunction with the academic curriculum, these three areas help ensure that students have a combination of learning and life experiences, along with a focus on developing social, emotional, spiritual, and physical health throughout their tenure at MHS.
What is student home life like at MHS?
The Home Life Program at Milton Hershey School aims to create a family-like atmosphere for students. In each of the 155 specially designed homes, 8-13 students of the same Division level live under the guidance of houseparents - married couples with childcare experience employed full-time by the School. Houseparents serve as mentors to each of the students in the home, providing support and guidance as the students develop, mature, and gain the skills that will make them successful graduates.
Parents and sponsors are welcome to become a part of this extended family by staying in touch with their children and their children's houseparents through regular phone calls, e-mails, and visits to campus. In addition to vacation breaks, students may visit family members overnight for up to five weekends per year. MHS also hosts several special family events throughout the year.