Dolly Parton is known for her charm, twang and award-winning songwriting but, behind the big hair and cowgirl boots, is also one of the most distinguished philanthropists – who now has an extra $100 million from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to put to “great use.”
The legendary singer, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last week, accepted The Bezos Award for Courage and Civility Saturday, which included a reward of $100 million.
“[Dolly Parton] gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids, and literacy, and so many other things, is just incredible,” Bezos said while presenting Parton with the award.
In 1986, Parton founded the Dollywood Foundation, a non-profit organization that began by offering scholarships to local high school students in the singer’s home state of Tennessee. The foundation grew to include Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that sends a child free books from birth until the age of 5.
Nearly four decades later, the program has since expanded internationally and in 2020 the foundation celebrated its 150 million books gifted, according to its website.
Parton also made a notable contribution to supporting the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center at the height of the 2020 pandemic to support vaccine research teams.
"When people are in a position to help, you should help. And I know I’ve always said, I try to put my money where my heart is," Patron said while accepting the award Saturday. "I will do my best to do good things with this money."