Dolly Parton is one of the most successful country singers of all time. She holds several records for having the most singles on the charts. She’s sold over 130 million records and written over 3,000 songs.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is one of the most prominent names in the business world. He has enough money and power to give to anyone, and he’s decided that Dolly’s worthy of it. He recently decided to recognize one of her most important contributions to the world apart from her music career.
Keep watching to learn why Jeff Bezos gave Dolly Parton $100M for the craziest reason.
The Bezos Courage and Civility Award
Jeff Bezos hasn’t always had the best reputation. Perhaps that’s why they’ve turned their focus to philanthropy, or at least supporting it.
They founded the Courage and Civility Award last year. It gives $100 million to worthy recipients.
It was finally given out this year, and the ceremony was pre-recorded and posted on social media. Jeff said that the recipient embodies its ideals. She gives with her heart for children, illiteracy, and other causes.
He then welcomed Dolly Parton to the stage. She reacted to the prize in astonishment, saying, “did you say 100 million dollars?”
Once she gathered her composure, she began addressing the audience. She said she believes you should always help those in need when you’re in a position to and has always tried to put her money where her heart is. She promised to “do good things” with the prize and thanked Jeff before walking off-stage.
Getting The Carnegie Medal and Twitter Attention
This isn’t the only time Dolly’s been honored for her efforts to make the world a better place. She also earned the Carnegie Medal this year. It debuted in 2001 and is normally given every two years but was put on hold in 2021 due to the pandemic.
Michael B. Young also started a Twitter thread in her honor in March. He described how much of a difference her philanthropic efforts have made in the world.
Dolly said in an interview with People Magazine that she’s “addicted to the feeling of giving.” She loves to use her time and money to benefit the lives of others.
Getting recognized for it is a bit less comfortable for her. She was skeptical of being put in that magazine as one of the People of the Year. She admits that it’s a lot of pressure but is glad that the world knows what she stands for.
As a Christian, she doesn’t want to be seen as an idol or worshiped. She cringes when others treat celebrities that way but is proud of setting a positive example.
She also says that she’s a fair but strict boss. She knew she’d have to find others to help her manage the impressive number of projects she’s taken on. Treating them well but making sure they did their job and didn’t become “creative vampires” who stole her ideas was the only way to see her many dreams come true.
Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on Dolly Parton’s nonstop life. Keep watching to learn about all the efforts that led to the moment when Jeff Bezos gave her a $100M award.
Dolly the Philanthropist
Dollywood and The Dollywood Foundation
Most of Dolly’s philanthropy focuses on her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. She began with The Dollywood Foundation in 1988. It was named after her theme park. The point of that massive establishment was to give the town more jobs and turn it into a profitable tourist area.
She later noticed how high dropout rates in the area were and wanted to do something about it. She added the Buddy Program to the Dollywood Foundation. It gave every 7th and 8th grader who graduated $500 towards attending Hawasier College. The program worked and decreased dropout rates from 35% to 6%.
The foundation also gives away the Chasing Rainbows Award. It honros a teacher who has “overcome obstacles in their life and is making a difference in the lives of children.” They get a chance to spend a week at Dollywood as her honored guest.
The Imagination Library
Education had always been important to Dolly since her early years. One of her most famous philanthropic efforts, The Imagination Library, was inspired by her father’s illiteracy.
The program began in 1995. It makes sure that every child in Sevier County gets a book every month until they enter their first year of school.
By 2000, it was such a major program that it could serve any community that wants it. It now offers books to over 1,800 communities in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and the UK.
The Imagination Library gave away its 100 millionth book in 2018. It now sends over 1 million books every month to 1.3 million children.
Dolly also developed several scholarships to further education. Most focus on her hometown or theme park.
The Special Merit Scholarship was given in connection to the Imagination Library. Two-year-old Evy Johns received $30,000 to celebrate the program’s ability to ship out one million books a month.
Dolly also gives scholarships to her employees. She’s pledged to cover all tuition and fees to anyone working at Dollywood who wants to further their education in over 30 areas and $5,250 in several others. They can enroll the day they start working.
Some of her scholarships are the result of specific events. She gave one to all graduating high school seniors graduating from the Great Smoky Mountains after the area was devastated by wildfires.
Wildfire and Flooding Relief
Dolly organized a telethon to help victims of the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge fires. It was called The Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund. It featured other country legends such as Kenny Rogers, Alison Crouse, Reba McEntire, and Cyndi Lauper.
She also launched the My People Fund. It gave $1,000 a month for six months to homes destroyed by the fires and $8.9 million.
Middle Tennessee was devastated by flooding in October of 2021. Dolly’s Smoky Mountain Businesses had money to give. They raised $700,000 in total but weren’t sure what to do with it.
Dolly’s friend Loretta Lynn suggested she give it to United Way of Humphreys County. The hope was that it would be distributed among the needy.
The My People Fund telethon was a major success, but Dolly’s also put on small but equally effective benefit concerts.
In 2007, she sang to raise money for Sevier County Hospital. It raised $500,000. That wasn’t enough, but she was ready to make up the difference.
Dolly use Dollywoodand her Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater to add $250,000 to the earnings. That rounded out the total to a cool $1 million.
The hospital and cancer center opened in 2010. It includes a 30,000-square-foot Dolly Parton Center for Women’s Services named in her honor.
Helping Rebuild Neighborhoods
I Will Always Love You became a massive hit after Whitney Houston took it on. Dolly Parton originally wrote and performed it, and she refused to give up the rights. She earned $10 million from it in one year.
She also refused to sit on that money and use it for herself. She decided to give it to help rebuild a neighborhood instead. She bought a small strip mall in a Black part of Nashville to help it bring in more money. She says she was honored to do it and that “this was the house that Whitney built.”
This wasn’t the only way she’s given back to black communities in her lifetime. Few took notice until a writer named Michael Harriot made it known on Twitter. He said that Dolly had quietly paid for the uniforms and instruments for bands in several predominantly Black high schools.
Dolly’s niece was being treated for leukemia at the Monroe Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It began right after her children’s album, I Believe in You, came out.
The incident inspired her to help other children. She donated $1 million to fund research into pediatric infectious diseases. She believes that no child should have to suffer and wanted to do whatever she could to help.
She already donated $1 million to that same hospital towards research into the Moderna COVID vaccine in 2020. It has a 94.5% effectiveness rate, the second-highest of all vaccines.
Saving the Bald Eagle and Building Butterfly Gardens
Dollywood has more than rides and statues; it also has the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. It rehabilitates and releases the birds when possible. At 30,000 square feet, it’s also the largest collection of non-releasable birds in the world. They’re on display most of the year and even participate in shows.
Dolly explained in her 2020 book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics that she relates to the birds. They also appear in her songs, especially 1991’s Eagle When She Flies.
Her efforts have helped keep one of America’s most important symbols from going extinct. The success of the facility was impressive that it earned her the Partnership Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003.
Dolly has also helped other animals. She opened the Hannah Dennison Butterfly Garden at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It’s a place for them to flutter and a beautiful, encouraging site for everyone at the hospital.
Dolly has established plenty of her own charities, but she also takes the time to give to others when she believes in their causes. A few examples include the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, the Save the Music Foundation, and the Boot Campaign.
Supporting Transgender Rights
Dolly also uses her voice to speak about what she believes in. In addition to Black Lives Matter, she’s been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
Dolly opposed the “bathroom ban” in North Carolina. She said that she tries not to judge anyone and that it’s important to treat others with respect. In her own words, “everyone deserves to be who and what they are.”
Which celebrity do you think gives back to the world the most? Let us know in the comments below.