Betsy Devos and the Art of Philanthropy
Betsy DeVos has played a pivotal role in the realm of education throughout her entire life. The new Secretary of Education for the United States government has been all over the news in recent weeks and now more and more people are eager to learn about her work. DeVos has a wide and varied career that has spanned several industries. The biggest commonality throughout her career is that she has always cared, always innovated, and has always pushed with her beliefs at the forefront of her decision making. Let’s look at how DeVos’ and her philanthropy are going to be shaping the educational field for years to come. Read her interview with Philantrophy Table.
If you had to pick a mantle for Betsy DeVos to set her goals on it would be that of the school choice movement. The school choice movement has been gaining steam for decades now and DeVos and her family has been there right alongside of it. Just looking at the raw numbers will have DeVos point out that there are 17 states funding private choice programs and those programs are covering a full 250,000 students. DeVos says that the “movement’s growth is accelerating”. The role of private choice schooling first started gaining ground about 50 years ago when Milton Friedman penned, “The Role of Government in Education.” This writing would likely be considered a pretty solid basis for the movement that DeVos is pioneering.
Looking back at DeVos’ growth as a school choice proponent it is clear when she became an advocate. DeVos says, “It’s not like there was a single incident that drew me in. It was more gradual than that.” DeVos points to the fact that her husband, Dick, and herself had school aged children when they became interested. They wanted to find a place where kids were in “an environment that was safe, where they were learning, and where the atmosphere was just electric with curiosity, with love for one another.” DeVos met with families while her husband was running as a Republican for a position on the State Board of Education in Michigan.
Switching gears to philanthropy you can date Mrs. Devos’ work to the early ’90s. DeVos worked with a pair of 501(C)(3) charities: Children First America as well as the American Education Reform Council. The goal of these charities was to give families the chance to expand their choices in terms of education for their children. Over the past several decades Betsy DeVos has made a serious change in both her position and her outreach.