Country singer and songwriting legend Dolly Parton has been awarded $100 million after being named the winner of the 2022 Courage and Civility Award, created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his partner Lauren Sanchez.
The award was created in 2021, with the inaugural winners of the prize going to founding chief executive of the REFORM Alliance and Dream Corps Van Jones and chef and World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres.
This is everything you need to know.
What is the Courage and Civility Award?
The Courage and Civility Award is an award created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wherein $100 million is gifted to a recipient to spend on charities of their choosing.
At the ceremony, Bezos’ long time partner, Lauren Sanchez, explained: “The award recognises leaders who aim high, find solutions, and who always do it with civility. Each awardee receives $100 million to direct to the charities that they see fit.”
Why has Dolly Parton been given $100 million?
Outside of her musical career, Parton is well known for her philanthropic efforts that she has engaged in over the years, supporting a number of charities. She has raised money for things like the victims of the 2016 Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, the American Red Cross, HIV/AIDS-related charities, the construction of a hospital and cancer centre in honour of Dr Robert F Thomas, just to name a few.
In 1988, Parton founded her own non-profit called the Dollywood Foundation, which started out by offering scholarships to local high school students. From there, it grew to include the Imagination Library in 1995, which distributes free books to children aged five and up on a monthly basis, and, in 2016, the Dollywood Foundation expanded once again with the My People Fund following the wildfires in Tennessee.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Parton donated $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, money which funded the important early stages of the Moderna vaccine.
Other awards that Parton has received for her charity include a number of awards for her literacy work, including the Association of American Publishers Honours Award, the Partnership Award from the US Fish and Wildlife Service for her contributions to bald eagle conservation via the American Eagle Foundation sanctuary, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Bezos said at the Courage and Civility Award ceremony: “We have in this very room the next recipient of the Courage and Civility Award. The woman you’re about to meet embodies these ideals so thoroughly. She gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids, and literacy, and so many other things, is just incredible.
“It’s my great honour to welcome our 2022 Courage and Civility Award recipient up onto the stage, Dolly Parton.”
What has she said about the award?
Giving her a microphone, Parton joined Bezos and Sanchez on stage at the award ceremony, where she said that “when people are in a position to help, you should help”.
She said: “I know that I’ve always said, I try to put my money where my heart is, and [to Bezos] I think you do the same thing. I will do my best to do good things with this money. Thank you Jeff.”
Earlier this month, Parton was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.