How Betsy DeVos’ Passion for Education Reform turned her into one of the Country’s Biggest Philanthropists

Betsy DeVos has many enviable titles. Businesswoman, reformer and government bureaucrat are all terms used to describe her. In her storied professional career that spans over three decades, she has served in various capacities in political movements, private business and the education sector. Arguably her most befitting title, however, is a philanthropist. The soft-spoken billionaire has been in the business of giving, together with her husband, for decades now.In a recent interview published in Philanthropy Roundtable, Mrs. DeVos opened up her motivations, experiences, and outlook for her philanthropy. As a professional, either serving in a political capacity, Mrs. DeVos always looked to combine innovation and social change. While working in the education sector, Mrs. DeVos realized that there was a great opportunity there to effect lasting social change through innovation. The public school system, as it were, was not working well. Therefore, as a woman of means and a mother to school-going children, Mrs. DeVos decided to start supporting students and schools in desperate needs of resources.

This support initially kicked off with the provision of a few scholarships at one school then quickly grew when the DeVos family created a foundation and Mr. DeVos, her husband, was elected to the State Education Board in Michigan in 1990. While the scholarships provided opportunities to a great number of students who would have otherwise lacked a quality education, Mrs. DeVos soon realized that scholarships could only do so much. There was a greater need for policy reforms that would permanently address the educational challenges in America. And thus began her involvement in education reform all around the country; a move that has since yielded some significant successes for the benefit of needy and knowledge-hungry children everywhere.Much of Mrs. DeVos’ philanthropic work has been conducted through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Together with her husband, Dick DeVos, she founded this charitable organization close to four decades ago.

The Foundation’s primary objectives are facilitating the development of arts, community, education, and justice. Additionally, with the DeVos’ being devout Christians, the Foundation’s activities are partially motivated by faith. The Foundation is one of the biggest family-owned charities in the country with well over $100 million being doled out by the charity it since its formation in 1989. In 2015 alone tax forms placed the money donated by the Foundation to various institutions and organizations at an approximate figure of $10 million. Today, Mrs. DeVos is helping educate close to a quarter of a million children in various types of schools spread across 17 states in the country and the District of Columbia.Many organizations have over the years taken note of Mrs. DeVos’ philanthropic and reformist nature and, as a consequence decided to appoint her to their boards. She serves on the boards of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Kids Hope USA, among other organizations.