What I Learned About Betsy DeVos’s Philanthropic Role

I recently had the opportunity to learn a bit more about our U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. I already had a moderate understanding of her role as Secretary of Education and her political views. My initial impressions of her when she took her position was simply that she was clearly a very passionate woman and her passion was centralized around education reform. I am no politician and don’t claim to have a deep breadth of knowledge in that area. I do know that she has been a longstanding cornerstone in Republican politics in her home state of Michigan. She was formerly a Republican National Convention delegate and aided President George W. Bush in campaign efforts. However, the information I recently learned about Betsy DeVos follower her philanthropic work.


Alongside her husband, Dick DeVos, the family has a foundation that manages their giving. The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation recently released information about their financial giving. I was blown away to see that the foundation had given over $139 million during its lifetime. I was greatly impressed to see how much money of the DeVos’s had been circulated back into charities and non-profits over several decades.


As far as where those funds are donated, it seems to align pretty closely with their priorities. I wasn’t surprised to see that Betsy DeVos’s philanthropy was focused on education. In 2015 alone, the Foundation made over $11 million in philanthropic donations. Out of that incredible amount, over $3 million went directly to educational philanthropies. Betsy DeVos is highly passionate about education reform and she has used her personal wealth to donate directly to causes that support that. In the articles I read she mentioned how she sees how extremely heard teachers and administrators work, but the funding is just not there to provide every child with the quality education they deserve. A quality education is one of the staples of gaining lifetime success.


She also gives to groups that support the growth of Charter Schools, such as the Success Academy Charter Schools and GREAAT Schools, Inc. When I continued down the lengthy list that broke down the $11 million in donations, I noticed there were many higher education institutions also receiving donations. Institutions such as University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Ferris State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University all received charitable funding from the DeVos Foundation.


Overall, it was very interesting to get a peek at Mrs. DeVos’s philanthropic side. I believe that when people retain such a prominent position in our government the good work that they do often gets swept up under the rug while people focus only on political issues. It gave me a great deal of respect for her and the impact she has made on these organizations.


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