Betsy DeVos – Transforming Lives With Philanthropy

Elisabeth DeVos is an American politician, businesswoman and philanthropist. She is currently the Secretary of Education of the United States. DeVos is a Republican, known for promoting charter schools, school choice and school voucher programs. From 1992 to 1997, she served as the Michigan Republican National Committeewoman and also the Michigan Republican Party chairwoman for 2 tenures from 1996 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2005. DeVos is a Foundation for Excellence in Education board member and the Detroit charter school system, advocate. She was the head of the All Children Matter PAC and the Alliance for School Choice and the Acton Institute board chairwoman. She is married to the heir to the Amway fortune and billionaire, Richard “Dick” DeVos Jr., who was the Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan Republican nominee in 2006.


Betsy DeVos started her activism in when her family began helping underprivileged families in Michigan, at a Grand Rapids private school in the 1980s. She has been a school choice advocate both as a political leader and a philanthropist ever since. In 1989, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation was established with the aim of improving leadership and transformation in education, justice, arts and community leadership. She led and funded various organizations like the American Federation for ¬Children aimed at pushing school vouchers and tax credits through legislatures and remove school-choice and charter schools program limit. This will create better opportunities for poor children trapped in public schools. In 2003, she and her husband launched the All Children Matter PAC to advocate for school vouchers and tax relief to firms that issue private school scholarships. DeVos maintains that making the education system open to the availability of financial assistance programs (vouchers) will increase the choice of parents. These vouchers will make public funds available to students attending private schools.


The DeVos Family Foundation has also made considerable contributions to arts and culture with and the civic community with a good percentage of the grants going to faith-based organizations. Large donations were also made to art organizations, evangelical missions, Christian schools, health research, hospitals and free-market conservative think tanks. The foundation is also funding organizations like the Acton Institute, Baptists for Life, Right to Life Michigan Educational Fund, Michigan’s Pregnancy Resource Centre, Centre for Individual Rights, Michigan’s Foundation for Traditional Values and Institute for Justice. The Betsy and Dick DeVos Scholars for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Scholarships are awarded annually at the Northwood University to students graduating with a BBA or combined BBA/MBA. DeVos believes after several years of charity work, that philanthropy and practical political activism go hand in hand with effective results. A policy change is usually difficult, so reformist legislators and philanthropists must work together to produce the required change.


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