The Hershey Company and Memphis Music Initiative Partner to Elevate Black Voices

Originally published at The Hershey Company ranked No. 6 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.


The Hershey Company and non-profit partner, Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), announced a multi-year partnership to elevate Black voices through music. As part of this partnership, youth and staff from MMI collaborated with Hershey in developing a new pilot campaign, Beat of the Future, to celebrate Black Music Month in June.

The Beat of the Future campaign and partnership with MMI will honor the rich music legacy of Memphis by celebrating not only the music of Memphis’ storied past, but also the transformative role that music plays for youth across the city. Through this program, Hershey recognizes that music is a universal thread that crosses all cultures and has the power to connect communities. Black music, in particular, has been instrumental in creating meaningful dialogue and universally connecting diverse groups.

“At Hershey, we have a legacy of creating connection, building community and supporting children and youth,” said Vero Villasenor, Vice President of Confection, The Hershey Company. “This legacy and our ongoing commitment to support the Black community inspired our partnership and the Beat of the Future campaign. MMI has been a truly terrific partner. Students and MMI staff were integral to developing the campaign. We’re thrilled to support MMI and its mission of creating equitable opportunities for Black and Brown youth in Memphis.”

Since 2015, MMI has encouraged young people to become creatively immersed in their past, critically engaged in the present and more able to determine their future through the power of music and arts. The Memphis-based non-profit supports students K-12 through in-school and out-of-school programs resulting in more than 150,000 hours of student engagement, more than 25,000 students served and the equivalent of $9 million invested in support for local public schools in Shelby County, Tennessee.

“We at MMI are so excited to show the world the creative genius of Memphis’ youth,” said Amber Hamilton, Executive Director, MMI. “Throughout the development of this campaign, The Hershey Company has been a true and authentic partner, eager to understand the context in which we work and the dreams of the young people we engage with on a daily basis. Youth voice is at the heart of what we do, and we are grateful to The Hershey Company for ensuring that our young people are seen and valued.”

Hershey’s financial donation and collaborative relationship extends beyond Black Music Month. The partnership will support MMI on its mission to cultivate a thriving arts and culture ecosystem to enhance the quality of life of Memphis residents, provide critical development opportunities for Black and Brown youth and serve the community health and vibrancy of the city.

Memphis is the home of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll, and is also home to one of Hershey’s core manufacturing facilities where more than 500 Memphians are employed by the company, serving as important cultural connectors for the city and for the future.

To learn more about Beat of the Future, visit

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