Employees of Dolly Parton’s entertainment empire just got access to future 9-to-5s that previously may have been out of their reach.
Dollywood announced Tuesday that it would foot the bill for any of its 11,000 employees interested in continuing their education. Herschend Enterprises — the operating partner behind Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, Dollywood Cabins and Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show — said that it will start covering 100% of tuition, fees and books for any part-time, full-time or seasonal employees who wish to go back to school. The policy is set to go into effect on Feb. 24.
Employees can enroll on their first day with the company, reported Knoxville, Tennessee-based outlet WATE.
Employees will have access to diploma, degree and certificate programs at 30 learning partners in subjects including business administration and leadership, culinary arts, and technology and marketing. The company will also provide partial funding, up to $5,250 per year, for 150 additional programs.
“We know when our hosts are happy and feel cared for that they are going to pass that along to our guests,” Eugene Naughton, the president of the Dollywood Company, told WATE. “The creation of the program allows another avenue for us to care for our hosts.”
Parton’s philanthropic efforts have become as legendary as her iconic music career.
The country superstar created the Imagination Library in 1995, which donates books to families once a month from the time of a child’s birth to age 5. Parton, who is herself a children’s book author, established the program in honor of her father, who could not read.
And in April 2020, the nine-time Grammy winner donated $1 million toward coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which contributed to the creation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. She also announced in July 2021 that she had invested the $10 million she made in royalties from her song “I Will Always Love You” — which she wrote in 1973, and which Whitney Houston turned into a smash hit in 1992 — into the Black community.
And although Parton has been extremely generous with her money, don’t even think about erecting a statue of her in her honor. She will not find it “appropriate.”