Dollywood announced on Tuesday (Feb. 8) that the East Tennessee theme park will cover college tuition, including fees and books, for its workers.
The education benefit package goes into effect on Feb. 24 and benefits all part-time, seasonal and full-time employees of Dollywood Parks & Resorts. This covers workers for the following properties of operating partner Herschend Enterprises: Dollywood, Dollywood's Splash Country, Dolly Parton's Stampede, Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, Dollywood Cabins and Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show.
"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 (as reported by Knoxville's WATE). "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'," Naughton continued. "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."
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Herschend Enterprises is offering free tuition through its GROW U pilot program. Employees will have access to diploma, degree and certificate programs across 30 learning partners. Programs offered include business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology and marketing. WATE adds that "the company will provide partial funding, up to $5,250/year, for 150 additional programs in fields including hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design."
It's the latest good deed connected to Dolly Parton, Dollywood's namesake and its "dreamer-in-chief." The recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee has already fought illiteracy through her non-profit Imagination Library and went toe-to-toe with COVID-19 with the massive donation to Vanderbilt University that led to the Moderna vaccine.
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