Betsy DeVos: Philanthropist and Political Activist

Betsy DeVos serves as the chair of the American Federation for Children (AFC). This is one of the country’s top school choice advocacy groups fighting with a passion for correcting America’s broken education system by enabling parents to take their kids to the school of their liking. Betsy has successfully led this group to help more than a million kids to go to the schools that their parents prefer. The failure of the traditional system is that it traps children within their ZIP codes in schools that may probably fail to meet their needs. Betsy mentors at-risk elementary children through Kids Hope USA for one hour each week. She is also on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Learn more: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/01/31/512507538/under-devos-heres-how-school-choice-might-work

DeVos and her husband Dick DeVos have helped a lot of schools. Recently, she encouraged Dick to form the West Michigan Aviation Academy which is a public charter school. It serves to merge their passion for education with Dick’s attachment to aviation. Betsy DeVos has been involved in politics for more than three decades since her time at Calvin College. After campus, her first political activity was working for President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 as a volunteer. She has worked as a leader in many Republican political action committees, party organizations, and campaigns. Most of these focused on reform and education choice. She has served on the Republican National Committee for six years and has been elected as the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party a few times between 1996 and 2005.

Betsy had an interesting start before becoming a member of the educational choice movement. It started when she and Dick started visiting the Potter’s House Christian School a while back. While occasionally visiting the school, they used to meet parents from low-income families and saw how these guardians struggled to raise money for tuition. They decided to support a few children at a time and at the moment they support a large number at the Potter’s House Christian School. Her husband became elected in 1990 to the State Board of Education in Michigan, and she started a foundation that aided families which did not earn as much. She then realized the scholarship problem would help some people but not the problem at hand. During the 1990’s, Betsy served on the boards of Children First America and American Education Reform. These were charities which aimed to expand education options through tax credits and vouchers. Read more on Los Angeles Times.

In 2000, Betsy and her husband unsuccessfully tried to change Michigan State’s constitution to be able to allow vouchers and tax-credit scholarships. Due to this defeat, she started a political action committee devoted to promoting education reform and then she decided to take this agenda nationally.