Tennessee theme park Dollywood, which is jointly owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, just announced that it will pay 100% of student employees’ tuition, including the cost of textbooks, starting later this month.
The new program was started by Herschend Enterprises, and Dollywood Company president Eugene Naughton told a local news outlet, “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,” he continued. “We care about our hosts’ development and we want their future to grow because of love—not loans.”
Per the Huffington Post, the funds are available for “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.” Disney has a similar program to pay employees’ tuition at “network schools.”
Dolly Parton, who continues to be the best person alive, is also in the habit of buying books for others. Since 1995, her Imagination Library has sent over a hundred million free books to children under five. OVER A HUNDRED MILLION FREE BOOKS FOR KIDS. Sorry I’m shouting, but that’s a lot of books. The project was inspired by Parton’s father’s illiteracy.
In the coming years, Dollywood will expand with new resorts and lodges, and Parton has a. number of other projects in the works. As she told People, “I can’t stop now. I’ve learned you can’t just say, ‘Oh, my dream’s come true and I’m walking out of here.’ No, you’ve got to show you’re grateful and show that you’re not going to just leave it all in the hands of other people…So, I’m going to be right here, doing what I’m doing, ’til I fall over dead.” Like fifty or sixty years from now, we pray.