Education reform and school choice has not lost momentum since the US education system was first recognized as low performing compared to the rest of the world. Individual parents looking for answers as to why their children were being left out of the education loop has a champion in Betsy DeVos. Of the many options to overcoming the obstacle of low performing schools, such as home schooling and charter schools, Betsy and Dick DeVos has been fighting for school choice since the 90’s and has been part of the successful movement nationwide. In a 2013 interview in Philanthropy Magazine, Betsy DeVos told of the progress of more than 30 yeas of effort that has paid off.
The DeVos efforts include many political and nonprofit roles, including Betsy being chairman of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family foundation, her memberships on national and local boards, including the DeVos Institute for Art Management, Kids Hope USA and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, as well as chairman of the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children. She spoke of the progress made during 2012 which included the educational choice programs increasing by around 40,000 students and new programs in Louisiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Mississippi. Programs in Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Florida also expanded. At that time there were 250,000 students from 17 states and DC participating in publicly funded school choice programs. The results are from hard work that started more than 30 years ago when the couple, having school aged children of their own, visited the Potter’s House Christian School in Grand Rapids, MI, and spoke with low income parents who wanted their children in safe, loving learning environments “electric with curiosity”. They began to support individual students at first, then increased their commitment. The couple being involved in the passing of Michigan’s first state constitution allowing tax-credit scholarships or vouchers, but the measure failed. Betsy, however, started a foundation that gave low income families scholarships that allowed them to decide where their children attended school.
The DeVos has help the school choice movement grow not only through their own philanthropic efforts but also by serving on the boards of Children First America and American Education Reform, national 501(c)(3) charities. To more effectively bring about change, school choice organizers and advocates constructed a more cohesive effort by forming the American Federation for Children, an umbrella organization that covered the American Federation for Children, the Alliance for School Choice, the AFC political action committee, and the American Federation for Children Action Fund. It put the right components to work to realize greater success. The DeVos Family is known for giving away billions in their efforts to support community services, arts and culture, health and education. Betsy and Dick DeVos should also be known for rolling up their sleeves, putting in the hard work, time and efforts, that support education by giving more families more choices and options throughout the nation. Read more about Dick DeVos on crunchbase.com.