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Dolly Parton's Dollywood offers to pay full tuition for all its employees

Dolly Parton on new project, long career
Dolly Parton on her birthday, new cake partnership and staying busy seven decades into her career 08:18

Dolly Parton's theme park Dollywood announced Tuesday it will pay for tuition, fees and books for all its employees who choose to "pursue further education." The program, with funding provided by Dollywood's parent company Herschend Enterprises, will launch on February 24.

Herschend Enterprises' pilot program, titled GROW U, will be implemented for its 11,000 employees — seasonal, part-time or full-time — across its 25 parks, including Dollywood, according to a press release. The company is offering more than 100 fully-funded diploma, degree and certificate programs, and will also provide partial funding for 150 additional programs in fields such as hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.

Eugene Naughton, president of the Dollywood Company, said in a statement that he wants Dollywood Parks and Resorts to be the "best possible experience for both our guests and 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," Naughton said.

Exploring Tennessee's Pigeon Forge
The entrance to Dollywood is viewed on October 18, 2016 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Getty Images

Andrew Wexler, Herschend CEO, said in a statement: "Our team members' success is our success."

"Whether it's to pursue a new dream or advance their career with us, we care about our employees' personal and professional growth, because we believe that their futures should be grown with love, not loans," he wrote. 

While Parton has yet to comment on the announcement, the country music star and actress has long been associated with philanthropy and goodwill. Among them, she funded research for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, raised money for Smoky Mountains wild fire victims in 2016 and created a charity that helps put books in the hands of children. 

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