One name that is synonymous with our country’s education and the movement to give children and families more choices is Ms. Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos. She and her husband, Dick DeVos, are incredibly active in the educational system. She currently serves as the 11th United States Secretary of Education after a long history of success in the political sector. For over 3 decades she has worked in politics as it relates to education. She is incredibly passionate about ensuring that students have choices in their education, and are not sent to a specific school merely because of their family’s income status or the zip code that the family lives in. Read more about their foundation at dbdvfoundation.org
A recent interview with Ms. DeVos appeared on Philanthropy Roundtable that gave a deep profile into her background and her charitable works. She served as an onsite mentor for low income schools in the Grand Rapids area for over a decade. During that time she mentored students that were likely from low income families, encouraging them to hone their skills and seek aptitudes that could prepare them to enter the job force of for higher education. While Ms. DeVos is widely known for being an extremely hands on philanthropist, she and her family are also known throughout Michigan for their financial giving. After visiting a low income Christian School, Potter’s House, she saw the amount of need that was present for the students. Many families were simply trying to make sure that their children were in a safe environment in the Grand Rapids area, and at many times that safety become prevalent over a strong education. Ms. DeVos immediately got involved as she knew her children had the option to attend almost any school of their choice, and she wanted to promote an even playing field across Michigan. She and her husband began to sponsor children of specific need financially so that they could have more independent freedom in their educational choices. While they still sponsor children, they expanded their financial giving to become overall donors for the school, helping the school ensure they have the supplies they need for the students to thrive. Read more about her philanthropy at MLive.
Ms. Betsy DeVos is looking to think broader than the fact that students are assigned to a school based simply on whatever zip code they live in. She is a true advocate for educational freedom for students, especially those in low income areas. She is also widely known for helping spearhead a voucher campaign and raise awareness for the voucher program. She and her team went to great lengths to reach low income families that would receive huge benefit from the voucher program – they did print mailings, ran billboard and radio campaigns and visited the schools. It is this type of tireless passion by Ms. DeVos that has created a snowball effect that has become a true educational movement in our country.