Much is expected from those to whom much has been given – this could be the motto of Betsy Devos, though she might argue that her family and that of her husband, were given only opportunity; they earned the money they have.
Categorized by Forbes in 2015 as number 24 on their list of America’s Top Givers, it might be more efficient to list the establishments that have not been assisted by Ms. Devos than those that have. Long devoted to their Christian mission and school education, the Devos Foundation donated over $100 million dollars to deserving organizations, of which approximately half went to Christian organizations.
When her four children were small and began attending school, Ms. Devos became interested in education. She visited local non-public schools in her home state of Michigan and visited the public schools. She realized what the statistics on the public system have reflected for many years: public education was failing. We, as members of the pool supporting public education, were investing in a failing system that was not educating children and was, in some cases, actually putting children in dangerous environments. Read her interview with Philantrophy Table.
Ms. Devos and her husband were blessed with assets that enabled them to send their children to any school, but Ms. Devos realized that few people had that option. On invitation, she and her husband visited The Potter’s House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both were impressed by the quality of the education offered there and by the dedication of the school parents who worked long and hard to afford it because the available public education was inadequate.
With the sponsorship of the Potter’s House, Ms. Devos turned her attention and considerable means to education and found many similar instances of poor public institutions. Ideally, we would revise these institutions that we all support with our taxes, but vast opposition to substantive change led Ms. Devos to making more and more substantial investments in successful, private education.
In time, this graduate of tiny Calvin College in Michigan, became a philanthropic force in the nation. Though her foundation, Betsy Devos has contributed to countless educational institutions as well as many art and research establishments.
No single family can support all of the American children deserving of quality education. Betsy realized that making an impact in education required political involvement. She expanded her efforts into nation-wide opportunities for school choice and has seen substantial success, particularly in Florida.
Her organizations continue to support educational and artistic opportunities for people across the country and the list of organization to which the Devos family contributes continues to grow.
Ms. Devos plans to extend her influence nationally through her current nomination and it will certainly be a great day for education when she begins that excellent work.