Even when she was in college, Betsy DeVos was known as a reformer. She took an active role in the campus politics that took place at Calvin College and served as a leader. She has continued that legacy throughout her life as both a leader of political party campaigns, political action committees, and the boards of several nonprofits.
As a reformer, Betsy DeVos looks for new and innovative solutions to problems that negatively impact the United States. One of the big issues she has identified is the lack of school choice that public school students have. Often a child’s educational outcome is more determined by the zip code they grow up in then their effort, with zip codes that are dominated by low-income households having the worst results. Due to this reason, she believes that parents should have a choice in where their children attend school.
25 years ago the Milwaukee, Wisconsin instituted their private-school voucher program. This has now spread to 17 states and Washington D.C. Altogether there are 33 publicly funded, private choice programs in the nation with about 250,000 students attending them. Betsy DeVos said that the school choice movement is growing rapidly and improving the state of education in the nation. This growth is taking place against public schools, which are failing in a great many parts of the country. Read more about their foundation at dbdvfoundation.org.
Betsy DeVos’s experience with the school choice movement began in the 1980’s when she and her husband, Dick, visited Potter’s House Christian School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many of the families that attend this school are low-income. However, they want the best for their children and so are willing to sacrifice a lot in order to see their children get the education that they deserve. Through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, they started financially supporting many of the individual families that have students at the school over the years.
Betsy has served the educational community in a number of different ways over the past 30 years. Beyond donating money, she has also donated her time and expertise. She has served on a number of boards including as Chairman of the Board of the American Federation of Children. This nonprofit is the leading school choice advocacy organization in the country. Betsy and Dick also support the West Michigan Aviation Academy which prepares its students to enter the aviation industry, including as mechanics and pilots.
The family foundation that Betsy and Dick created was begun in 1989. The main focuses of their charitable giving are education, the arts, justice, leadership, and community. Among the many nonprofits they have supported are ArtPrize, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Program, and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland.