Betsy Devos and the Educational Choice Movement

Dick and Betsy DeVos are receiving quite a bit of public scrutiny for their political donations in the name of philanthropy, accumulating over $139 million over their time in office. This power couple for the Republican party has just given out $11.6 million to charity, which is stated on the DeVos Family Foundation website. The high-profile Republican couple has been active in political campaigns for decades: It began with Rich DeVos, the co-founder of Amway.


The DeVos family has ranked in 24th place on Forbes’ list of “America’s Top Givers“, donating out $104 million in fundraising efforts. It’s estimated that they have given away up to $1.33 billion of their fortune towards educational reform and religious organizations. Their priority rests on making vouchers and charter schools more accessible to people living in developing neighborhoods. They are aware of the failing public school system and why it should be treated as a civil issue.


Their critics insist that money spent on charter schools should be directed towards improving the conditions of public schools instead. They point to the lack of information on who the 2015 charity recipients are. They consider the DeVos’ contributions as a front for fueling a political agenda due to all the charter schools being for-profit. But, this sentiment is held mostly by those in the Michigan Democratic Party. At the very least, the DeVos are showing their transparency about where Michigan’s tax dollars are being spent.


Fortunately, there is a way to break down the DeVos foundation’s tax records, which reveal the major beneficiaries in 2013, including the Compass College of Cinematic Arts and Potter’s House in Wyoming. The DeVos explain that they are not trying to distract the public away from their political cause. In fact, the schools they support are known for pushing academic rigor and personal accountability. Moreover, they managed to attract famous speakers to fundraising events for the West Michigan Aviation Academy, producing several licensed pilots and aerospace engineers.


The Devos’ were also fixated on expanding fine arts and culture. They were able to improve the business side of arts organizations. On top of that, they allocated funds towards public policy, health and human services, and churches. The Devos couple prefers to focus on specific causes such as research on neuroblastoma or leadership development for Chicago’s Willow Creek church. They wanted to emphasize family values and as such, they are asking their children for advice on which charities need help the most.


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