HERSHEY, Pa. and SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hershey Company recently partnered with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif. to provide students with a hands-on package-design opportunity. Students were asked to create a customized heart box design for Hershey's®Pot of Gold® chocolates to help give the collection a contemporary, fresh look for the 2013 Valentine's Day season. After consumer testing, the top student package designs were selected for production and will be featured on-shelf during the 2013 Valentine's Day season. In recognition of the school's efforts, The Hershey Company also donated $20,000 to the Academy of Art University for the creation of the Hershey Design Excellence Award. "Packaging is such an important part of any brand experience and we are excited to be able to inspire creativity in students and showcase student-designed work on-shelf," said Moira Cullen, senior director of global design for The Hershey Company. "We are looking forward to helping foster the development of current and future designers by providing a series of scholarships to the school." Thirteen students were tasked with the assignment of designing a heart box for the Pot of Gold assortment. Split into four teams, more than 40 heart boxes were created and four were selected for retail and will be available beginning in January 2013. Cullen served as one of three judges to select the winning package designs, as well as assisted in choosing the inaugural winners of the Hershey Design Excellence Award. Each year, the Academy of Art University hosts a semi-annual student showcase in the winter and spring to feature work from the university's students. This year, Cullen and Sharnell Weathersby, associate brand manager of Valentine's Season for The Hershey Company, attended the annual spring show to be on hand to present the inaugural Hershey Design ExcellenceAward. The award recognizes an undergraduate and graduate student who has excelled in the area of package design. In addition to recognition, each winner receives $1,000. "This is a great example of corporate social responsibility in action … harnessing the creativity of students and giving back with a series of scholarships to the school," said Sylvia Buxton, director of seasons for The Hershey Company. This year, the Bachelors in Fine Arts recipient was Elliot Tran from San Francisco, Calif., while the Masters in Arts recipient was Astra Sondarsono from Indonesia. The remaining donation from The Hershey Company will be awarded in each category at both the university's winter and spring shows for the next several years. "The Academy of Art University provides students with real-world, hands-on learning experiences so they are prepared to enter the workforce and contribute to an employer on day one," said Mary Scott, chair of the School of Graphic Design for the Academy of Art University. "We are grateful for this partnership with Hershey's that has provided our students with an opportunity to respond to a real-life business challenge and showcase the design skills they have developed. This is exactly the kind of professional level experience students need to get while they are still in school. We are also thrilled to be able to recognize students who have excelled in design now and in the future with the Hershey Design Excellence Award." The student-designed Pot of Gold Assortment boxes are now available for retailer orders and will be available on-shelf at all major grocery, convenience and mass drug stores nationwide beginning in January 2013. About The Hershey Company The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) is the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery. Headquartered in Hershey, Pa., The Hershey Company has operations throughout the world and approximately 12,000 employees. With revenues of more than $6 billion, Hershey offers confectionery products under more than 25 brand names, including such iconic brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey'sKisses, Hershey'sBliss, Hershey's Special Dark, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. Hershey also offers premium and artisan chocolate products under such brands as Scharffen Berger and Dagoba through the Artisan Confections Company, a wholly owned subsidiary. The company is focused on growing its presence in key international markets such as China and Mexico while continuing to build its competitive advantage in the United States and Canada. For more than 100 years, The Hershey Company has been a leader in making a positive difference in the communities where its employees live, work and do business. Corporate Social Responsibility is an integral part of the company's global business strategy, which includes goals and priorities focused on fair and ethical business dealings, environmental stewardship, fostering a desirable workplace for employees, and positively impacting society and local communities.