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In October of 2007, Joe Arpaio made news when his “Selective Enforcement Unit” arrested Jim Larkin and Mike Lacy. The two men were forced from their homes and placed in unmarked SUVs. They were then booked into different jails managed by Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff.

 

Apparently, the men, who are newspapers writers, were arrested because they wrote a story for the Phoenix New Times. The story was about Arpaio’s assault on the Constitution. Allies of Arpaio at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office issued subpoenas. They were seeking details about the newspaper’s readers, editors and writers. They wanted info about readers’ browsing histories, as well as IP addresses. Lacey and Larkin didn’t give into the subpoenas, so they wrote about it.

 

Lacey and Larkin didn’t spend much time in jail. In less than 24 hours, they were released but that was after their situation gained national attention. All charges against the men were dropped, too.

 

The incident kicked off a prolonged legal battle that centered around the First Amendment rights, as well as abuse of power. Eventually the pair won a multi-million dollar settled in 2013.

 

Lacy and Larkin used some of the settlement money for an initiative called the Frontera Fund. The fund is to mainly benefit the Hispanic community, who have been dealt with the brunt of civil rights abuses in the state of Arizona.

 

Larkin, who grew up in the state of Arizona, said he was taught to help those who are not as fortunate in life as he was. He mentioned that the Mexican immigrants who risk travelling through the desert to get to Arizona for work are deserving of help.

 

Politicians are both sides of the fence were campaigning for midterm elections in 2014 by taking a similar posturing to Arpaio’s views and policies. That is also when Larkin and Lacy started to distribute some of the dollars from their initiative. This was to benefit nonprofit groups that fight for Hispanic causes, as well as civil rights.

 

Lacey said Arpaio detained Mexican migrants and demonized them. He accused the sheriff of doing this to anyone with brown skin, which included American citizens. He added that he fostered a fear that gained momentum in the 2014 election.

 

Lacey finished his statement by saying the people of Arizona were better than that. He said that he and Larkin stood with migrants and that everyone were migrants.

The 2017 appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education was met with praise and controversy from opposing ends of the education aisle. Well known as a leader in the school choice movement and champion in education reform, DeVos’ interest in education has been evident not only in her political actions throughout her adult life but also in her philanthropy through giving and the promotion of grassroots educational organizations over the years. As the daughter of a public school teacher, she was introduced to the concept of school choice at a young age. Throughout her college and adult life, she would begin to champion the cause not only on the front lines in public school sectors and her political work within the Michigan Republican Party but also through her philanthropy and giving through various charitable and non-profit organizations. Read her interview with Philantrophy Table.

As former Chairman of the Philanthropy Roundtable, an organization that works to educate legislators on the need for philanthropy as well as promote philanthropy through working with donors to fulfill philanthropic needs across the nation, Betsy DeVos used her platform to encourage giving in high need areas such as K-12 education – particularly in her area of school choice and vouchers. In an interview with the Philanthropy Roundtable, Devos stated that her interest in advocating for school choice on a national scale blossomed when she served on two non-profit education charities in her state of Michigan to support legislation for vouchers and scholarships for low-income families. After the failure of school choice vouchers and scholarship legislation, she took her fight to a national level, working with additional educational nonprofits in states across the nation. Increasing both her philanthropic and political activity to increase awareness of the need for school choice advocacy.

Her philanthropy includes not only monetary donations and work through non-profit organizations such as Kids Hope USA and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, but also as an in school mentor for Grand Rapids Public Schools for 15 years. Philanthropy and giving are undeniably a family trait of the DeVos’ as her family was named as #24 on Forbes’s 2015 list of Top Givers, with Betsey and her husband contributing 11.6 million in Charity for that year alone – many of the benefactors being education and art organizations.

Her giving has helped countless children in need and her philanthropic involvement has increased the awareness of school choice to those who were previously unfamiliar with the concept. And while she is still in the beginning of her career as the Secretary of Education, we hope her enthusiasm and tenacity for education and reform in the past will be indicative of her performance to come. Visit Betsy’s profile page on Facebook.