Betsy and husband Dick DeVos, who give jointly through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, have given nearly $139 million to date, generous even by the standards set by other wealthy Michigan philanthropists. Giving is in Betsy DeVos’ blood; her father, the late manufacturing magnate Edgar Prince, supported civic projects in the family’s hometown of Holland, Michigan, where he is honored by a monument for the renovation of downtown Holland. Betsy’s in-laws are notable contributors as well, making giving a family tradition. A graduate of Grand Rapids’ Calvin College, DeVos has spent her life being active in politics and advocating for quality education.
Betsy DeVos serves as chair of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, where education is a priority. The foundation has backed the Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids, Potter’s House in Wyoming, the West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Rehoboth Christian School in New Mexico and numerous other schools in an effort to improve education for all children. Telling the Grand Rapids Press “Kids growing up in the wrong ZIP codes were not able to access the American dream and achieve the education necessary to have a shot at the American dream,” DeVos points to the free aviation-themed charter school she and her husband founded, where more than 33 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged. Graduating licensed pilots and students skilled in aeronautical engineering and robotics, the academically rigorous school is preparing students for STEM majors in college, and then high-paying jobs once they graduate. DeVos has also served as a board member and chairperson of the American Federation for Children and the Great Lakes Education Project. As the current United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos will have the opportunity to ensure all children receive the quality education that they deserve.
Funding the arts is also a priority for DeVos. By launching the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, DeVos supports arts organization’s managers and boards with training to keep their artists working. Also serving as a board member for ArtPrize for five years, DeVos supported the international art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From 2004 to 2010, DeVos served on the board of directors of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While making large monetary donations isn’t a hardship for DeVos, few individuals give so much of their time to organizations and causes that they champion.
Follow Betsy on Twitter