Betsy DeVos: A Reformer With Decades of Experience
Betsy DeVos is the US Education Secretary. She has been a diligent reformer since she was at Calvin College. She has more than three decades of experience leading campaigns, committees, and organizations. She was the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for six years. She is the chairman of the Windquest Group, which is a private firm that she founded with her husband, Dick DeVos. The Windquest Group has been active since 1989 and focuses on investing in manufacturing, technology, and clean energy research.
Ms. DeVos also serves as the chairman of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, the Alliance for School Choice, and the American Federation for Children. She serves on the board of directors for a number of national and local organizations, which include the Mars Hill Bible Church, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Kids Hope USA, and the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.
Philanthropy Magazine’s Interview With Ms. DeVos
Ms. DeVos spoke with Philanthropy Magazine during an interview and explained why she is dedicated to educational reform. She was asked about the progression of educational reform in the United States since the first private-school voucher program was established. Ms. DeVos explained that she is optimistic, and there are more than 17 states and Washington DC that offer private-choice education programs that are publicly funded. In 2012, these programs started in Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana and have flourished. She believes that the public has become more aware of how public schools are not what they should be and that vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credits have increased because of awareness.
She explained to Philanthropy Magazine that her primary focus is educational choice, but she also wants to eliminate the mindset that children should attend a specific school based on where they live. She wants to give families as much freedom as possible, and she believes that technology is beneficial for the future of educational reform. She feels that blended learning, digital learning, charter schools, and homeschooling are growing because they provide caregivers with the ability to take hold of their children’s education.
She encouraged her husband to start a charter high school that is known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy, which is located in Grand Rapids at the Gerald Ford Airport. This school prepares students for careers in the aviation industry.
Betsy and Dick DeVos: Generous Philanthropists
Mr. and Mrs. DeVos have been making charitable contributions to a number of causes and organizations for decades. The couple has donated an estimated $139 million over the course of their lives. Forbes estimates that the DeVos family has donated $1.33 billion, which is about a fourth of the family’s $5.2 billion fortune. The DeVos family was ranked 24th on the list of America’s Top Givers by Forbes in 2015. The couple donated more than $3 million to educational causes in 2015, which was roughly 25 percent of their donations that year.
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