KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Dollywood’s parent company is picking up the education tab for its employees beginning this year.
Herschend Enterprises is the operating partner of Dollywood and the nation’s largest privately-owned themed attractions corporation. This week, the company announced it will cover 100% of tuition, fees and books for employees who wish to further their education. And they aren’t stopping with the Dollywood location.
Herschend’s GROW U is expected to launch Feb. 24 to provide educational opportunities for 11,000 seasonal, part-time and full-time employees across the corporation’s 25 U.S. attractions. That includes Dollywood Parks and Resorts in Pigeon Forge; Pink Adventure Tours in Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada; Wild Adventures in Georgia; Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey; Silver Dollar City in Missouri; and Kentucky Kingdom and Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.
Hosts will be eligible to enroll in the GROW U program on their first day of employment.
“One of The Dollywood Foundation’s key tenets is to ‘learn more.’ This program is created with that very tenet in mind,” said Eugene Naughton, president of The Dollywood Company. “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.”
Andrew Wexler, CEO of Herschend Enterprises, said the program was designed to help employees advance their careers within — or outside of — the company.
“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,” said Wexler. “Our team members’ success is our success — and that’s why we’re thrilled to make this benefit available to all, regardless of their role in the company and without the burden of debt.”
Under the GROW U program, employees will have access to diploma, degree and certificate programs across 30 learning partners. Programs will be offered in business administration and leadership, culinary, finance, technology and marketing.
Additionally, the company will provide partial funding, up to $5,250 per year, for 150 additional programs in fields including hospitality, engineering, human resources and art design.
Guild Education powers the GROW U program. The platform also provides similar programs to employees of Taco Bell, Disney, Lowe’s, Walmart and more.