Betsy DeVos: Making A Positive Impact On People’s Lives

Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos is a businesswoman, philanthropist and education activist. She is also the current Secretary of Education of the United States. A passionate advocate for school choice, charter schools and school voucher programs, she is expected to work to give parents a number of great choices when it comes to their children’s education. A Foundation for Excellence in Education board member, DeVos is also Alliance for School Choice as well as the Action Institute board chairwoman and the head of the All Children Matter political action committee.

A Republican Party member, Betsy DeVos is very active politically. She was the Michigan Republican Party chairwoman from 1992 to 1997 and Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman from 1996 until 2000. She was re-elected to the position in 2003. Betsy DeVos has been intimately involved in the Michigan Republican Party since 1982. Beginning in 1986, she was elected to serve 16 consecutive two-year terms as a Michigan Republican Party local precinct delegate. Described as an excellent behind-the-scenes organizer and fund raiser, DeVos raised over $150,000 personally for George Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004.

Born in Holland, Michigan, Betsy DeVos is the daughter of billionaire industrialist Edgar Prince. Her husband is former Amway CEO Dick DeVos and her father-in-law is billionaire Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway. Former officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs and founder of private military service contractor Blackwater USA, Erik Prince, is her brother. DeVos is a Christian Reformed Church in North America member. She attended Holland Christian High School and is an elder in Grand Rapids, Michigan based Mars Hill Bible Church. She has a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

Betsy DeVos has been deeply involved in philanthropy for decades. Through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which was founded in 1989, she and her husband have given more than $139 million to education, the arts, justice, leadership and community organizations. The DeVos foundation has given millions to hospitals, health research, Christian organizations, evangelical missions and conservative think tanks. She has also provided financial support to Michigan’s Pregnancy Resource Center, Baptists for Life, the Right to Life Michigan Educational Fund and many others.

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The arts are an area in which Betsy DeVos is deeply involved and to which she has given her support for many years. President George W. Bush appointed her to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts board of directors in 2004. She remained on the board until 2010. She helped fund a center to teach people to manage and raise funds for cultural institutions. The DeVos family gave over $22 million to the organization. It’s called the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Betsy DeVos helped to create the international art competition called ArtPrize.

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