When President Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to serve as the 11th Secretary of Education, he was responding to the nearly 30 years she has spent working to reform the system to expand the educational opportunities of all children, especially the most underserved. And this is just a part of her many philanthropic activities. Both Betsy and her husband Dick DeVos had engaged in many philanthropic activities, especially related to education. According to an interview published by Philanthropy Roundtable in 2013, when nobody would have bet a dime on the chances of her becoming Secretary of Education, she said her political activism dates back to her days at Calvin College. For six years she chaired the Michigan Republican Party. In 2006 her husband became the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan, but lost the general election. Visit Betsy’s profile page on Facebook.
Dick DeVos began his business career with Amway, the company his father Richard DeVos co-founded. In 1989, however, Dick and Betsy founded a privately held holding company, Windquest Group. Betsy serves as its chairman. Dick continued with Amway and other ventures for years, before devoting himself fulltime to running Windquest. Together Dick and Betsy Devos are active in a wide variety of philanthropic activities through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. However, it is true that school choice is a recurring theme in the organizations they choose to donate to. They have donated to the Alliance for School Choice, Foundation for Excellence in Education and the American Federation for Children, where she served as chairman.
Therefore, it’s appropriate that in the interview DeVos says she’s never been more optimistic about the future of school choice. At that time there were around 250,000 students in choice programs in seventeen states. She doesn’t fail to mention that support for school choice is growing probably because public schools are failing. Betsy DeVos explains her dedication to school choice began with she and Dick visiting Potter’s House Christian School many years ago. It serves low-income children in Grand Rapids. She was impressed by how the parents of those children fought to get their children into a safe environment where they could learn. They had school-age children themselves, and had the financial resources to send them to any school. She wondered why the low-income parents willing to sacrifice to pay tuition for their children shouldn’t have the same choice? They helped some individual families and financed scholarships, but she realized that didn’t address the fundamental problem. She started the Great Lakes Education Project to reform education in Michigan by expanding charter schools. That was so successful, her friends said they needed to take that national, which was the beginning of the American Federation for Children. They organized that as an umbrella organization to include the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children Action Fund. Visit betsydevos.com to know more about Betsy.