Dolly Parton, a veritable national treasure, has done yet another great thing for America: The parent company of her Tennessee theme park, Dollywood Parks & Resorts, announced Tuesday that it would cover 100 percent tuition, fees and books for employees enrolling in high school degrees and equivalents and post-high school degrees and certifications starting Feb. 24.
Dollywood employees can enroll starting on Day 1 of employment. I can’t believe I’m fawning over a robust company benefits package, but after reading it’s for full-time workers and part-time and seasonal employees? As the internet said five years ago: I have no choice but to stan.
“One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘Learn more.’ This program is created with that very tenet in mind,” Dollywood Company President Eugene Naughton said in a statement to Jezebel. “We care about our hosts’ development and we want their future to grow because of love—not loans.”
Herschend Enterprises, the operating partner of Dollywood, will be rolling out this pilot program across its 25 parks in Tennessee, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, New Jersey, Missouri, and Kentucky. GROW U is expected to reach as many as 11,000 workers with programs in “business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology, and marketing,” according to Knoxville’s WATE.
It tracks tracks that Dollywood is now tackling student loan debt as part of its benefit package. Dollywood employees have access to a healthcare center and the company pays for part of childcare for employees using certain childcare providers. The company also has an apprenticeship program at Walters State Community College which provides full-time jobs and benefits alongside school.
Meanwhile, student loan debt is crushing more than 43 million Americans, and while the Biden Administration has announced debt forgiveness for certain borrowers, no wide-spread forgiveness is on the horizon.
Let’s do a little experiment and hand the country over to Dolly Parton’s empire for a year. What’s the worse that could happen?