American chocolatier Milton S. Hershey founded Milton Hershey School, a private school serving pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students from low-income families. Having himself grown up poor, he wanted to put his vast wealth toward ensuring that youths would have an opportunity to go to school, acquire an education, and ultimately achieve happiness, regardless of their financial circumstances.
Born just before the American Civil War, Mr. Hershey came from a Mennonite family, though he participated little in formal religion. His initial efforts at business failed, with his first success coming in the creation of caramels during his late 1830s. After a large order from a wealthy English candy importer, he found his momentum and was able to support both considerable travel and a taste for refined, elegant items.
His candy business shifted from caramel to chocolate in the late 1800s, when he sold the Lancaster Caramel Company to competitors for $1 million. He invested his proceeds in chocolate, and by 1905, he had created the factory that would propel his business to great heights. He was a staunch believer in sharing the fruits of success, and so founded Milton Hershey School alongside his wife, Catherine, in 1909. Learn more about his school and its continued work by visiting www.mhskids.org.