Dolly Parton: what is Jeff Bezos charity award - why has Amazon founder given singer $100 million

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The Jolene singer was selected as the 2022 winner of the Courage and Civility Award

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.

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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.

Amazon Founder and Executive Chair Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the Global Premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, central London, on August 30, 2022. (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images)Amazon Founder and Executive Chair Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the Global Premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, central London, on August 30, 2022. (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images)
Amazon Founder and Executive Chair Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez pose on the red carpet upon arrival to attend the Global Premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, central London, on August 30, 2022. (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

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.

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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.

Dolly Parton attends the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)Dolly Parton attends the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
Dolly Parton attends the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) | Getty Images for The Rock and Ro

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.”

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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”.

Dolly Parton performs on stage at ACL Live during Blockchain Creative Labs’ Dollyverse event at SXSW during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals  on March 18, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW)Dolly Parton performs on stage at ACL Live during Blockchain Creative Labs’ Dollyverse event at SXSW during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals  on March 18, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW)
Dolly Parton performs on stage at ACL Live during Blockchain Creative Labs’ Dollyverse event at SXSW during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 18, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW) | Getty Images for SXSW

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.

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