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.