Betsy and Dick DeVos are known for their immense wealth, their work in politics and business within Michigan, and their enormous donations to various causes and political organizations. For their large sum donations over the years, the couple has received both praise and the voice of critics complaining about how they use their money. The couple has gained even more attention in recent years for their political donations due to the fact that Betsy DeVos is the current education secretary and Dick DeVos was tapped as an advisor for the transportation department by the transportation secretary Elaine Chao.
The couple donated some $11.6 million in charitable donations in 2015. They donated $5.3 million in political donations. This is typical for the couple, who donate far more to charities than to political efforts. They have donated $139 million to charities throughout their lives.
The couple is both from wealthy family dynasties that spent a good deal of their money on philanthropy efforts and Republican politics. Dick DeVos’s father Rich DeVos was the founder of the Amway company. Rich DeVos and his four grown children donated a total of $104 million to charity in 2015. The DeVos family were on the Forbes list of America’s top givers. Forbes estimates that throughout the lifetimes of the entire DeVos family, they have donated something like $1.33 billion. Betsy DeVos also comes from the wealthy and charitable Prince family.
The donations that Dick and Betsy make show that they primarily focus on education with their philanthropic efforts. They donated $3 million just toward education efforts in 2015 alone. They believe that donating to the American education system is a good idea because too many Americans are not capable of fulfilling their American dreams with the current education system. The DeVos couple noticed that many American students were not able to reach their full potential based on their zip code and lack of access to other types of schools that would better suit the needs of the students. Most of their education donations go towards education reform and for systems of school choice. School choice uses funding from public schools for school vouchers so students who would do better in a private or charter school can access that type of education instead of their needs.
Their push for school choice has led to criticism that this will just lead to public school funding being funneled into school vouchers. This is a fair argument, but their argument that the traditional school system doesn’t work for everyone is also valid. The appointment of Betsy DeVos to the position of education secretary was made because of her awareness that the school system isn’t doing its job in regards to helping every student pursue their own American dream and her push for different methods to create education opportunities based upon what a student might need. Whether the best option for the school system is to pursue something like school choice or to employ some other method to change up an archaic and challenged system that isn’t helping American students fulfil their goals, the DeVos family may be involved with efforts to solve the qualm of the century that the American education system has become.
Visit www.betsydevos.com to learn more.