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Empowering Youth to Create Kinder, More Empathetic Communities

Empowering Youth to Create Kinder, More Empathetic Communities

Published 04-28-21

Submitted by The Hershey Company

Catching Joy

At Hershey, we believe that even the smallest actions can make a big impact. Now more than ever, we want to empower all children and teens to create change within their communities. When young people take action to make the world better, they’re also building meaningful connections with others and developing critical social emotional skills that prepare them for success in work and life.

To celebrate young change makers around the country, we are proud to announce the third year of Hershey’s Heartwarming Project Action Grants program. The program provides $250 grants to 500 students across the U.S. who are leading projects that advance inclusion, empathy and connection in their communities.

Last year’s Heartwarming Project Action Grant winners impacted their communities and sparked connection in many ways as they saw their communities challenged by the pandemic:  Creating free grocery delivery services for senior citizens, building online tutoring programs for peers struggling with distance learning, and making masks and personal protective equipment. Other students saw their communities immersed in the racial justice movement in 2020, and in response, hosted conversations with their peers to build understanding and dialogue and launched community projects like a film festival that shared untold stories of local diversity and a program that paired art students with local leaders to create portraits and share stories.

When one winner, Tatiana from California, saw peers facing isolating challenges like inequality, mental health issues and poverty, she took action to make her community more inclusive. She created a safe space where students could creatively share their diverse perspectives and experiences through the art of film. Her goal was to show students that their voice and story matter and to increase empathy within her community.

A nurse and child stand with a basket of candy

“The North Valley Film Festival offers high school students the opportunity to use their creative skills to express their unique take on a variety of social issues, including mental health, poverty, gender inequality, racial inequality and identity. The goal of the festival was to provide a free platform for high school students to use their voice in a positive way and spark change in their community.”

The Heartwarming Project Action Grants program allowed students to impact the changes they felt were needed in their communities, during a challenging time of social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re excited to see the actions that young people take to create change when the program re-launches in 2021.

2 teen volunteers picking up trash

Do you know a trailblazing teen who’s ready to impact their community? Encourage them to visit to apply for a HWP Action Grant starting on April 28. Awards are made on a rolling monthly basis, and applications close on December 31, 2021. The program is administered by WE Charity, a nonprofit supported by the Heartwarming Project.

The Hershey Company created the Heartwarming Project in 2018 with the goal of ensuring all children and youth have the meaningful connections and social emotional skills they need to thrive.  The program has impacted more than 6 million children and youth annually through investments in nonprofits supporting youth social emotional learning, mental well-being, service-learning and programs that advance inclusion, empathy and connection such as the Hershey Heartwarming Project Action Grants program. More information is available at

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The Hershey Company

The Hershey Company

The Hershey Company is headquartered in Hershey, Pa., and is an industry-leading snacks company known for bringing goodness to the world through its iconic brands, remarkable people and enduring commitment to help children succeed. Hershey has approximately 19,700 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company has more than 100 brand names in approximately 80 countries around the world that drive more than $10 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey's, Reese's, Kit Kat®️, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers, and fast-growing salty snacks including SkinnyPop, Pirate's Booty and Dot's Pretzels.

For more than 125 years, Hershey has been committed to operating fairly, ethically and sustainably. Hershey founder, Milton S. Hershey, established The Hershey Chocolate Company in 1894 and created Milton Hershey School in 1909 which offers a cost-free education to students of need. The Hershey Company’s growth and success over the years has directly benefited the students of the Milton Hershey School as well as children across the United States and around the world through the company’s philanthropic partnerships focused on helping children succeed.

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