Betsy DeVos is not a stranger to reform. The wife of the former Amway CEO, Dick DeVos, is a member of the rich Prince family who studied at Calvin College. Early on, she got herself involved in campus politics and after graduation has remained politically active. Betsy has led various political action committees, party organizations and campaigns. She served as the Michigan Republican Party Chairman for six years. Dick DeVos, her husband, was the Republican nominee for Michigan Governor in 2006.
Betsy is not just concerned about politics. Her political activities are predicated by her social concerns. She is an instigator for innovative solutions to the country’s social problems. Betsy is the chairman of a multi-company operating group which invests in clean energy, manufacturing and technology. This company is a privately held business called Windquest Group. She, together with Dick, has established this company in 1989.
Betsy is also involved very closely with solving the problems of families vis a vis their children’s need for education. She’s trying to make a dent in these problems through her non-profit charitable activities. Betsy is the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation Chairman. She is also a member of various local and national boards. These include the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Kids Hope USA, Mars Hill Bible Church, and the Kennedy Center’s DeVos Institute for Arts Management. She also serves as the Alliance for School Choice and the American Federation for Children Chairman.
Betsy and Dick began to commit themselves to giving help to parents with low income. They are concerned that these families have difficulty in sending their kids to schools that they want. Dick run and got elected to Michigan’s State Board of Education in 1990. Betsy said that she got herself involved by establishing a foundation giving scholarships to poor families so they could choose where to send their kids to school. But she realized that this will never solve the real fundamental problem because most parents were never able to avail of the scholarships. That led her to think more broadly about education which is apparently influencing her activities now as the current Department of Education Secretary.
As for her experiences in the field of public education, Betsy has served in two national 501 (c) (3) charities as a board member. These are the American Education Reform Council and the Children First America. The AERC and the CFA have tried to provide more educational choices to parents by offering tax credits and vouchers. Betsy and her husband also tried unsuccessfully to reform the constitution of the state to enable vouchers or tax-credit scholarships.
As a reaction to their unsuccessful attempt to amend the state constitution, she established the Great Lakes Education Project, a political action committee that devotes itself to the promotion of educational reform by expanding the state’s charter schools. According to Betsy, from 2001 to 2002, they gained enough success that they began to think of expanding this movement nationally. Betsy admitted that this was the start of American Federation for Children which is focused on the same intrinsic purpose as her other charitable organizations.
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