Betsy DeVos has been a permanent fixture in America’s public limelight. The accomplished businesswoman is one of the most aggressive education reformers in the country. Over the course of the last three decades, she has helped in the molding of education systems all around the country and, in the process, empowered hundreds of thousands of youths from different states and backgrounds. However, what people also do not know is that Betsy DeVos is one of the biggest philanthropists in the country. Through her direct contributions and indirect work with the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, she has been able to help an estimated 250 thousand students from 17 states access a higher quality education.
Betsy DeVos’ involvement in the education sector goes back approximately three decades. At first, she was simply a parent concerned about the state of public education in the country. Soon after, she decided to do something about it. She started providing scholarships and resources to high-performing but needy students and schools. She would, however, soon realize that the scholarships would not be sufficient in effecting the degree of change that she desired. At that point, she decided to take up advocacy and went on to become one of the most effective education reformers in the country.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has been in operation since 1989. While the main purpose of the Foundation is to empower youths all around the country, it has maintained a strong faith-based focus. This is in line with the conservative values that Dick and Betsy both strongly believe in. It is, therefore, not surprising that a bulk of the Foundation’s support between 1999 and 2015, approximately $9 million, mainly went to Christian schools. Charter schools were a distant second receiving donations amounting to $5 million while public schools only received approximately $60 thousand. All in all, with lifetime donations standing at slightly over $100 million, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundations is one of biggest family-based philanthropic organizations in the country.
Betsy DeVos’ charitable contributions are not just restricted to the education sector. Her family’s Foundation is also focused on the arts, community, and leadership. For instance, in 2010, she gave the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts $22.5 million – one of the largest individual contributions the center has ever received. Further, she has been sponsoring an art competition for almost a decade now. Termed ArtPrize, the competition is held every year in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has a respectably high attendance rate. The competition has positively changed the lives of numerous artists through the $500 thousand in rewards that winners get and the high exposure that those who do not win also get.
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