Betsy DeVos, an educational philanthropist, and reformist

November 8, 2017

Recently nominated to be the secretary of education under the Trump administration, the legendary philanthropist Betsy DeVos is not only an iconic donor in education but also in the Republican Party. She ranks among the most popular philanthropists in the country, Ms. DeVos and her husband hail from a genealogy of philanthropists. Their charitable giving has been on areas varying from leadership institutes, legal groups, and other think tanks. The DeVoses have funded political causes in Michigan State where it has been estimated that the family channeled at least 44 million dollars as political donations. Acting as co-chair with her husband in the Michigan-based Dick and Betsy Devos Family Foundation, Ms. DeVos is not only an ardent campaigner for but a generous supporter of school choice in Michigan.


Based at Gerald Ford International Airport that’s located in Grand Rapids, West Michigan Aviation Academy, which was also founded by Dick DeVos in 2010, has been a significant beneficiary of the foundation. The same foundation supports two other private schools run by the Potter’s House while also financing the Education Freedom Fund whose mission is providing funds for needy children to access private education. Both the Federation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and the American Federation for Children (AFC) have also been supported by the DeVos Family Foundation.


The funding carried out the DeVos Family Foundation is not limited to education as it extends to the arts as well as health. As a principal financier of the Grand Rapids-based yearly art competition dubbed ArtPrize, the DeVos Family Foundation has had a significant influence in the creative sector of the residents of Michigan. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, named after Betsy’s mother in law, is also a beneficiary of the foundation’s investment in health.


The DeVoses have jointly since 1989 run Windquest Group, an entity that develops clean energy and water technologies. Having served as the chairwoman of an association of private donors and non-profit professionals, Philanthropy Roundtable, Ms. DeVos is also a member of the board of the John F. Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts.


Consistent with their conservative political views and Christian beliefs, the DeVoses have over the years funneled monies from their fortune to back conservative organizations such as American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, in whose board she also sits as a member. Another non-profit libertarian law firm which has been funding school choice lawsuits country-wide, Institute for Justice, has also been a significant recipient of the DeVos charitable work.


Another group that advocates for conservative viewpoints on college education, Intercollegiate Studies Institute Inc., was granted 6500 dollars by the DeVos Family Foundation. The University of Maryland College Park Foundation which has one of its institute’s names after the DeVoses couple has in the past received a grant of 500000 dollars from their foundation.


For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.