Even when she attended Calvin College, Betsy DeVos was a reformer and political advocate. She has continued that spirit through her adult life, championing many social causes, engaging in philanthropy, and staying politically active. Before becoming the United States Secretary of Education in 2017, she was also the co-founder, along with her husband Dick, and Chairman of the Windquest Group which invests in technology, clean energy, and manufacturing.
Betsy was also the Chairman of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation through which they provide their financial charitable giving. The family is known for donating money with no strings attached as to how it is used. She has also served on the board of a variety of nonprofits in the educational, leadership, and arts fields. Among these organizations she has served as a leader are the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the Kennedy Center, Kids Hope USA, and the American Federation for Children. Read more on Los Angeles Times.
An issue that Betsy DeVos is passionate about is school choice. She has been one of the driving forces that have led to 17 states, plus Washington D.C., starting programs that offer parents a choice of which school their child attends. One of the problems with public schools is that the educational outcome of a child relies far too much on what zip code they live in. Children that live in zip codes with a lot of low-income families are far too often not given an adequate education. The school choice movement allows families to use things like vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credits to attend private schools where children get a much better education.
Betsy says that she became part of the school choice movement in the 1980’s when she and Dick started regularly visiting a private school in Grand Rapid, Michigan. This school, Potter’s House Christian School, offers a great education in an area that is largely low-income. Betsy DeVos talked to the parents of these children and found out they were willing to make huge sacrifices in order to see their children get a quality education in a school that was safe and provided endless opportunities to exercise their curiosity. In order to support parents like this, Betsy and Dick started financially supporting the educational costs that some of these families incur.
Other education programs they have supported include the West Michigan Aviation Academy. This academy readies its students to enter the field of aviation after graduating. It is also a public charter high school.
Betsy began her political involvement in 1976 when she volunteered for President Ford’s reelection campaign. She has also been the Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for four consecutive terms. She was also on the Republican National Committee for six years.