Guild Education Helps Newport Aquarium Cover 100% Of Employee Tuition Costs

As part of its debt-free education program, the Newport Aquarium has partnered with Guild Education to offer its 11,000 employees access to a college education, free of charge. In addition, the Kentucky-based aquarium’s parent company, Herschend Enterprises confirmed that any employee — seasonal, part-time, and full-time —  can now pursue affordable higher education. 

The newly created Herschend’s Grow U. program launched Feb. 24. “Herschend’s Grow U. is not only a significant and transformational investment in our employee’s growth but also our love culture in action,” says Andrew Wexler, the CEO of Herschend Enterprises. In addition to tuition, the Newport Aquarium will cover employee fees and the cost of books required for the courses.

“We have so many team members pursuing their dreams while working at the aquarium, and that makes them stronger employees,” says Rebecca Foster, executive director of Newport Aquarium. “We are so proud of their hard work in taking care of our guests and their own bright futures, so we are thrilled to be rewarding that hard work with this great new education benefit.”

Newport Aquarium: Two Decades of Fun

The Newport Aquarium opened in May 1999 and is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is a leader in global wildlife conservation. It showcases thousands of animals from all over the globe in 1 million gallons of water throughout its 70 exhibits and 14 galleries. 

Visitors flock to the Ring of Fire gallery to catch a glimpse of the giant pacific octopus, Japanese spider crab, and moon jellyfish. The Kroger Penguin Palooza is a popular place to spot the king penguin. At the same time, the bravest guests can mingle among a pair of albino American alligators in Gator Alley or stroll alongside sharks in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit. Its shark ray breeding program is one of the first of its kind in operation. 

The Newport Aquarium also promotes the importance of ocean conservation through the Wave Foundation, which allows children and young adults to go behind the scenes with aquatic staff to learn about the different species of animals and how the aquarium operates. Plus, if you’re there in September, check out Mermaid’s Cove, an interactive exhibit that lets guests talk to mermaids about ocean conservation and ways to save the planet.

Herschend Enterprises Empowers Employees In Partnership with Guild Education 

Herschend Enterprises is a privately owned entertainment-themed company that manages multiple tourist attractions and amusement parks across the United States and Canada. “Herschend is rooted in love. That is evident at every Herschend property, every day, in the way we treat and support each other and how we create memories worth repeating for guests, and most importantly, how we care for our employees,” says Wexler. 

Herschend Enterprises is headquartered in Atlanta. In addition to Kentucky’s Newport Aquarium, it operates attractions in Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia, and Vancouver, British Columbia. For the past six decades, Herschend has been entertaining families and helping millions make memories. Every year more than 14 million guests visit one of its 26 properties, including Adventure Aquarium, Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, Kentucky Kingdom Wild Adventures, and Vancouver Aquarium.

Guild Education Powers Herschend’s Grow U. Program

The Grow U. Program offers Newport Aquarium employees the opportunity to achieve more than 100 fully funded diploma, degree, and certificate programs available through the 30-plus partners included in Guild Education’s Learning Marketplace. Fields of study include culinary, leadership and business administration, technology, finance, and marketing.

Herschend Enterprises chose to partner with Guild Education because it’s the United States’ leading education and upskilling platform. The program also offers partial funding — up to $5,250 a year — for employees who want to pursue one of the 150 other programs offered in different fields, including engineering, art design, hospitality, and human resources. 

“Whether it is to pursue a new dream or advance their career with us, we care about our employees’ professional growth because we believe that their futures should be grown with love, not loans,” explains Wexler. “Our team members’ success is our success. And that is why we are thrilled to make this benefit available to all, regardless of their role at the company and without the burden of debt.”

“Guild has brought together a diverse network of nonprofit, accredited universities with the nation’s best outcomes for working adults,” Rachel Carlson, the CEO of Guild Education, said. “Our network includes more than 1,600 programs helping students attend schools around the United States, like the University of Arizona, [University of Massachusetts Global], Bellevue University, Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue [University] Global, and the University of Central Florida, to earn an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.” 

Why Affordable Education Appeals to Working Adults

Newport Aquarium is in good company. Other businesses that have selected the educational technology company to empower their employees with educational opportunities include Chipotle, Walmart, The Walt Disney Company, Discover Financial, Lowe’s, and Taco Bell. 

“At Guild Education, we are on a mission to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education,” explained Carlson. “We do this by offering our employer partners a full technology platform and a diverse network of the nation’s top accredited universities tailored toward the success of working adults.”

Guild Education’s network also includes a vast variety of credentials and certificates relevant to the workforce — “from software engineering and product management to plumbing and electrical trades, as well as English as a second language, college prep, and high school compilation,” Carlson said. “We see employers choosing programs that meet the needs of their workforce with an emphasis on the training needs to prepare employees for jobs of the future. Through our employer partners, 400,000 working adults have begun exploring their pathway to school with Guild.” 

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