One Woman’s Life of Philanthropy–Betsy DeVos

Besty DeVos has had a long history of philanthropic involvement focusing on education. She has co-chaired the family foundation in Grand Rapids, Michigan supporting schools and school choice in the state. The foundation supports the West Michigan Aviation Academy a charter high school geared to aviation and housed at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.

Betsy Devos chaired the American Federation for Children (AFC) a 501 (c) (4), along with former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman and former news anchor Campbell Brown. She serves on the board of Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE). This organization is an education think tank founded by Jeb Bush former Florida governor. DeVos served on this board with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former NYC public schools Chancellor Joel Klien and Charles Schwab.

Betsy DeVos and her husband established the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation in 1989. The foundation focused on Michigan community needs, though it also contributes to healthcare and arts. DeVos has served as the Char of the Board of Directors for the Philanthropy Roundtable and the American Federation for Children. She has served on other organizations including the ArtPrize international competition and the Florida education reform non-profit Foundation for Excellence in Education. The other organization she has served was the University of Maryland DeVos Institute for Arts management and former chairperson of The Windquest Group. Earlier Betsy DeVos served on a family foundation, a charity organization The Prince Foundation originally named the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.


Betsy DeVos has spent decades in philanthropy efforts mostly focusing on education in Michigan and school choice. Believing children should have the best education for their unique needs, since visiting Potter House Christian School and meeting some of the low-income parents. She and her husband saw a need to support parents to decide what type of schooling is best for their child. Betsy DeVos and her husband have donated approximately $139 million to charity and in 2015 she donated from the foundation more than $11.6 million. Between 2004 and 2010 DeVos donated $22.5 million to the Action Institute, ArtPrize, and the Kennedy Center.

She has looked for innovative solutions to social problems affecting children through reform in non-profit rolls. DeVos said in a Philanthropy Roundtable interview it was not one single incident that drew her in, it happened gradually. During a time when her children were in school and she has spent over 30 years to ensure low-income children could have the best education. While she has spent decades fighting through the different organizations and charities DeVos said in the interview she has high standards for education no matter where it takes place. The question was about charter schools, home schooling, and others she has supported through philanthropy efforts. Check this article from New York Post.

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