Inherent to the origin of Chocolate University is the vocation of Askinosie Chocolate – to make the best tasting chocolate that does the most good for farmer partners and our communities.
Shortly after the first chocolate bar rolled out of the Askinosie Chocolate factory, the company began seeking opportunities to involve the communities at home and at our cocoa origin locations in our bean-to-bar adventure.
Askinosie Chocolate company founder Shawn Askinosie quickly recognized that the Missouri Hotel, Springfield’s largest homeless shelter, was only one block away from the factory on Historic Commercial Street. At the time, as many as 80 children slept there on any given night, and many were students at the schools within walking distance of our factory. We were inspired to begin a program that would involve young people from our community in our small, international business, and the idea for Chocolate University was born.
Since its inception in 2007, Chocolate University has hosted a variety of programs and initiatives for students. Throughout, the program focus has stayed true to the tenets of our mission – To inspire students to become global citizens, encourage knowledge of themselves and their opportunities, and understand that small businesses can solve world problems.
The Chocolate University program leverages the close, direct-trade relationships Askinosie Chocolate builds with cocoa farmers across the globe as a point of intersection for students from southwest Missouri to establish a sense of global perspective and plant the seed of global citizenship. Chocolate University also works to harness the learnings and lessons that Shawn found meaningful during his journey from criminal defense attorney to chocolate maker. Chocolate University provides tools for students to consider personal vocation, create Vision of Greatness statements for their future and establish a strong sense of themselves and their possibilities. Lastly, Chocolate University shares the unique Askinosie Chocolate way of building communities through direct trade, profit sharing and providing access to higher value markets.
In 2018, The Askinosie Foundation was formed to create an entity unique from the chocolate factory. While the programming efforts remained constant, the public charity classification allows the organization to more transparently and effectively support projects in our local and farmer partner communities.
The many stories of Chocolate University graduates and students impacted by Chocolate University projects are a testament to the unique Askinosie Chocolate business model and the result of a small, family-owned chocolate factory focused on making the best tasting chocolate and doing the most good for our farmer partners and our communities.