Betsy DeVos began her political career in college and hasn’t stopped fighting for change ever since. At Calvin College she inserted herself into the political community and began her lifelong commitment to activism. Over the last 30 years she has been the chair of several campaigns, organizations, political action committees, and even served as the Michigan Republican Party’s chairman for six years.
Most of DeVos’ philanthropic record has been devoted to helping children obtain the quality of education that they deserve and empowering parents to help obtain that education. School choice is one of DeVos’ most strongly held beliefs and a reality she fights for to this day.
When her own children went through school, she realized how many parents had to sacrifice everything just so their kids could get the best education. Potter’s House Christian School first caught Mrs. DeVos’ eye when her own children were school aged. Over the years, she and her husband have returned to the school several times, contributing enough to support individual students at first, then expanding to support much larger programs. They still support Potter’s House Christian School, but Mrs. DeVos has grown her activism and reach far beyond a single school.
In the 1990s, Betsy DeVos started an organization that granted low-income parents scholarships so they could choose the best school for their children and send them wherever they saw fit. It helped, but DeVos knew it wasn’t enough. A larger problem existed, and she made it her mission to try to fix it.
She went on to serve on the boards for both Children First America and the American Education Reform Council, both nonprofit organizations that seek to provide school choice to parents and quality education to children in the United States. In 2000, she and her husband fought to change the constitution so that it would allow tax-credit vouchers or scholarships, but they were unsuccessful.
That didn’t stop Betsy DeVos, though. Betsy answered that defeat by starting the Great Lakes Education Project, a political action committee dedicated to influencing statewide education reform, largely through the expansion of charter schools. The committee enjoyed such great success between the years of 2001 and 2002 that DeVos was encouraged to take her initiative nationwide. Read more about her philanthropy at MLive.
At that point, Betsy DeVos became involved in an organization she would go on to chair called the American Federation for Children. She was a primary force in that organization, creating a more streamlined process and cohesive cooperation and furthering the work of helping parents obtain access to school choice so that students can receive the education they deserve.
Betsy DeVos still works tirelessly to bring school choice to as many people as possible across the country. Her work has been largely responsible for major successes in Florida, Louisiana, and Illinois, as well as other states, but she routinely admits there is much work left to do. One thing is for certain, though; Betsy DeVos won’t give up anytime soon.