With the successful launch of Dollywood in 1986, Dolly’s attention quickly turned to working with the management of the park to identify ways to better serve the children of Sevier County. Although for many years she provided money to help the Sevier County High School band with scholarships, she wanted to do even more for the kids in her hometown.
All agreed there was a need for a foundation to establish and fund these good works. In April of 1988, The Dollywood Foundation was created. The original board members were Dolly, Ted Miller, Barbara Joines, Ken Bell, Charles Kite, Edna Rogers, Jo Blalock, Bob DeBusk, Ann Warden and Jack Parton.
The initial effort was targeted at providing scholarships for seniors at the local high schools and interestingly enough, to encourage the members of Dolly’s fan club to do more to help children. This was an important first step for a home-grown foundation on a journey that would ultimately lead to a global presence positively impacting the lives of millions of children.