Dollywood to pay tuition for all employees, even part time and seasonal

You know if Dolly Parton is anywhere near the story, it’s going to be good news for your Friday. And this is no exception. Dolly’s amusement park, Dollywood, is implementing an educational program that offers full tuition for all its employees. That’s right – all employees. So full-time, part-time and seasonal employees will be eligible for full tuition, fees and books. The program is called GROW U and is being funded by Herschend Enterprises, Dolly’s operating partner in Dollywood. And it’s being offered to Dollywood employees across the country.

Employees at Dollywood working 9 to 5, or other schedules, will soon be eligible for a new program paying 100% of tuition, fees and books if they want to seek degrees or other educational opportunities.

Herschend Enterprises, Dolly Parton’s operating partner in Dollywood, will fund the educational fees through a new program called GROW U. It will be available for seasonal, part-time and full-time employees beginning Feb. 24.

Herschend Enterprises will offer the program to 11,000 employees at Dollywood Parks & Resorts in addition to employees at its attractions across the country.

The GROW U program offers workers more than 100 diploma, degree and certificate programs from 30 “learning partners,” according to a Tuesday news release from Dollywood. It will also provide partial funding, up to $5,250 per year, for 150 other programs in hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.

“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,” Eugene Naughton, president of The Dollywood Co., said in a statement.

[From USA Today via Yahoo]

Side-note – I want credit for not making the 9 to 5 joke that every other outlet is making. Grow U is powered by Guild Education. They work with many corporations including Disney, Walmart and Discover. I love that Dollywood is also offering partial tuition to 150 additional programs. That kind of flexibility speaks to their dedication to their “learn more” tenet. So does the variety of certificates they’re funding. Those degrees will be applicable in many careers.

Obviously, this is huge. It’s hard enough to work and go to school but trying to work enough to pay for school and spend the time to earn a degree will beat a person down. Having tuition, fees and books covered is going to take so much pressure off those folks. And rarely do these sorts of programs apply to anyone other than full-time employees. The fact that this is extending as far as seasonal workers is so, well, Dolly-like, isn’t it? We know that Dolly encourages learning and making those resources available to those who don’t have them. She’s doing incredible work with her Imagination Library free book program. So this educational opportunity for those who work for her doesn’t surprise me, it just fills me with joy. And reaffirms my faith that we can nice things, at least as long as Dolly’s around. Which now includes Dolly’s Baking collection!

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32 Responses to “Dollywood to pay tuition for all employees, even part time and seasonal”

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  1. HandforthParish says:

    That is genuinely awesome. How to change the lives of so many people in a no fuss, practical and supportive way.

    She really is an amazing human being, isn’t she?

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Yes. She is. Thank you Hecate for another story about the glorious, humble, humane woman named Dolly Parton. Seriously, it would be great if you could connect with Dolly and have fun fact Friday. One fun obscure factoid shared. This whole tuition thing is amazing. One of my favorite songs, Coat of Many Colors. The main color Dolly has always worn is kindness.

  2. Runaway says:

    I saw this story last night and it made me smile. Which Dolly always seems to do. She’s just a good egg, whatelse is there to say, she’s good people, she cares

    • Ravensdaughter says:

      What a wonderful human being. Education is so important, and it’s wonderful that she understands that and acts upon her understanding in a very meaningful way.
      Compare her to Jeff Bezos, who is getting a bridge removed in the Netherlands so his new mega-yacht can get through. He is a selfish, self-centered a–hole.

    • Christine says:

      It made me instantly smile too. Dolly Parton is a national treasure, what a great woman.

  3. Jais says:

    This is v cool. Dolly forever.

  4. Tootsie McJingle says:

    Now I want to go work at Dollywood!

    Also, has anyone tried her cake mixes yet? I love to bake and I appreciate that her cake mix flavors are actually interesting!

  5. Miranda says:

    I have adored Dolly for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I even begged my dad to let me dress as her for Halloween one year (he shot that down, given that her most prominent physical feature would look wildly inappropriate for an 8-year-old’s costume). I think she is one of those rare cases where an idol has never done anything to eventually disappoint her fans. She is an angel and I still want to be like her when I grow up.

    • Christine says:

      LMAO! I wanted to dress up as Dolly for Halloween one year, and my parents gave me the exact same response. I ended up a generic cowgirl.

  6. Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

    My 4 year old has been getting Dolly’s Imagination Library books her whole life (I signed her up the day after she was born). I can show her Dolly’s picture in the back of each book and she recognizes her (“Who is that lady?” “Dolly Parton!”). I am so grateful for it for those books in the mail.

    As a side note, my daughter is equally impressed that Dolly has a program that free books to any child that wants them, AND her own theme park, lol.

    • Dierski says:

      Yes!!! 100% Her imagination library program is truly incredible, and low-key too. I love this new program from her too. She is a woman who is guided by her ideals and love of helping others, and genuinely helps others to lift themselves up as she had to do. What better way than education? Go Dolly!

  7. TIFFANY says:

    And you are eligible one day after hire.

    One day.

    Dolly is that Christian Woman who understands the assignment.

    • FHMom says:

      I love this comment. She is living her beliefs instead of the usual hypocrisy

      • HoofRat says:

        I have stopped calling myself a Christian, based on the horrible behaviour of so many right-wingers. I shall now dub myself a “Doll(y)ower of Christ”. Who’s with me? We can meet on Zoom, sing our official hymn (Love Is Like A Butterfly), and take communion using cakes made from Dolly’s mixes.

    • @HoofRAt

      I’m with you, and where do I sign up!

  8. Twin Falls says:

    I ❤️ Dolly.

  9. Mrs. Smith says:

    I am familiar with the county in TN where Dollywood is located. This kind of support is HUGE for local folks. It’s not a wealthy area and education options are limited. Every dollar counts (as in LOTS of people would have to choose between say, buying your school books or buying gas for the car this week kind of situation). I’ll buy a season pass for D’wood to show my support!

    • Lise says:

      I used to work for the University of Tennessee library system in the next county over. This initiative is huge! Sevier County (home of Dollywood) is a rich county, but the wealth disparity is vast, and the service economy leaves many straddling the poverty line – especially in the off-season. Many of our students at UTK worked at Dollywood in the summer just to have enough money to pay for books and fees (even if they had scholarships). And there are many other college students at Carson-Newman, Maryville College, and a few community colleges due the same – and of course all those who can now go to college to begin with because of Dolly and Dollywood.

  10. Bettyrose says:

    And books? That’s amazing and well beyond most tuition programs.

  11. Green Desert says:

    Dolly is a national treasure. What a truly amazing woman.

  12. Lucy2 says:

    That is wonderful. What a truly generous and loving woman she is.

  13. salmonpuff says:

    My daughter has been incredibly grateful for the $5k a year she can get from Chipotle, but it requires some hoop-jumping and maintaining a 15-hour-a-week work schedule (while she pursues an engineering degree). I can’t imagine how life-changing it would be to receive this kind of support from an employer.

    Dolly really really puts the rest of the billionaire class to shame.

    • Snooze says:

      $5k… jeez. When I was young, studying at uni and working in the service industry, the minimum wage was $17 an hour in my country (Australia). So, I’d earn $136 for an 8 hour shift. If I did 3 a week that was $408. More on Sundays. Then minimum wage went up to $19 an hour and I believe it’s now $22. Minimum wages in the US are unliveable. And the tertiary education costs and loan system are so inequitable it’s crazy.

  14. SpankyB says:

    I love Dolly more and more.

    My previous employer did this also. He was big on education and if anyone who hadn’t gone to college wanted to, or if they wanted to further their education, he’d pay for it. He even paid for employee’s kids education if they needed help. Obviously his business wasn’t as big as Dollywood, 10 employees at the most, and he paid really well so most employees were able to send their kids to school anyway, but a single mom like me, it helped a bunch.

  15. Seaflower says:

    Dolly for Queen.

  16. aang says:

    I love this for these workers. I don’t love americans having to rely on their employer for healthcare or education. It has ‘company town’ vibes and leaves people open to abuse at work because they feel they will lose insurance or now tuition as more companies jump on this bandwagon if they advocate for better working conditions. I fully believe that Dollywood is a great place to work and these workers are lucky. Other workers will not be so lucky.

  17. Luna17 says:

    Dolly is the best! My toddler gets books monthly through her Imagination Library and it always reminds me that their are really good people in this world.

  18. TeeBee says:

    What a wonderful world we would live in if people like Dolly, Mackenzie (Bezos) Scott, Paul Newman, Betty White and the other wealthy famous people who are being lauded for their philanthropy became the most popular role models, rather than the Kardashians, the housewives of whatever county, etc. That fame and wealth was chased so that people could fulfill their lifelong dreams of helping others rather than accumulating “stuff”.

    It seems to be left to the people on the lowest rungs of the ladder to do the bulk of altruistic work for the greater good. How many food banks, shelters, non-profits are staffed and run by the people with the least material wealth to donate but all the heart and gumption we need.

    That is why I was so heartened by Joe Biden as president, yet disheartened that he hasn’t transformed America by his sheer desire to help people. It’s almost as if philanthropy is considered a weakness, or for goody-two-shoes, and that leaving vulnerable people behind is the smarter thing to do, a fast track to the wealth and fortunate life we’re supposedly driven to seek.

  19. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    Dolly is a national treasure. You know that question “Which celebrity would you like to have dinner with?” She’s my pick. I also think she’s witty, funny, and a good story-teller.

  20. JanetDR says:

    Like I needed another reason to love her 💗

  21. LMEMES says:

    I ❤️ Dolly.