Country superstar Dolly Parton is only fourth in the public voting for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But after this she may jump to number 1 with a bullet.
The singer of “Jolene” and “9 to 5” and the writer of “I Will Always Love You,” is doing something unique and wonderful. Her Knoxville, Tennessee theme park Dollywood is picking up the education tab for all of its employees this year.
Herschend Enterprises, operating partner of Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, Dollywood Cabins, and Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, announced it will cover 100% of their employees’ tuition, fees and books for those who wish to further their education.
“We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests,” said Eugene Naughton, president of The Dollywood Company, in a release. “The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts.
“One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘learn more.’ This program is created with that very tenet in mind. We want our hosts to develop themselves through advanced learning to fulfill the foundation’s other tenets: care more, dream more, and be more. When our hosts strive to grow themselves, it makes our business and our community a truly better place.”
Parton is no stranger to largesse and charity. Her Dollywood Foundation gives away over $1 million a year in donations every year mostly to local groups in Tennessee. Parton is also much appreciated for kicking in $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for development of the Moderna vaccine. The result was one of the three approved vaccines for COVID which has saved millions of lives.
Among Dolly’s next projects is a reunion with her “Nine to Five” co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tonlin in their Netflix comedy series, “Grace and Frankie.”
The college program is in partnership with Herschend Enterprises, the company that runs Dollywood with Parton. Herschend is offering the incentive through its pilot program GROW U. Seasonal, part-time and full-time employees will have access to diploma, degree and certificate programs across 30 learning partners. Programs will be offered in business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology, and marketing.
The company will also provide partial funding, up to $5,250/year, for 150 additional programs in fields including hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.