Even before her appointment as the Education Secretary in the Trump Administration, Betsy DeVos had courted controversy for staunch views of education policy. Such was her level of unpopularity; it took a rare tie-breaking vote from the Vice President to push her confirmation through the Senate. And in the months since then, the controversies over her decisions and policies have propelled her to the unenviable position of being the least popular cabinet member in a historically unpopular administration.
But there is another face to the Betsy DeVos story that gets obscured in all this chaos. Along with her husband Dick DeVos, she has overseen the donation of millions of dollars to educational charities across America. As the daughter of industrialist Edgar Prince, she was born into a wealthy family. And she married into one of the wealthiest families in the US, the DeVos clan which co-owns the Amway empire.
Along with her husband Dick, Betsy DeVos has been noted in the past for their sizeable donations to Republican political causes. But all those pales in comparison to their contributions in the field of education in America. According to the figures available on their charitable foundation website, the couple has donated close to $140 million to educational charities over the course of their lifetimes. This is in line with the philanthropic efforts of the DeVos family, which according to Forbes, has donated nearly a quarter of their $5.2 billion to various charities over the years.
Education reform has been a passionate cause for Betsy DeVos and plays a prominent part in her controversial reputation as well. Her opposition to the public school system and staunch support for vouchers and charter schools have made her unpopular for many. But all that cannot detract from her consistent and generous support for educational institutions and charities over the years.
Nowhere are the results starker in the DeVos home state of Michigan. Institutions like the Compass College of Cinematic Arts, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, the Detroit Charter School Company, and the West Michigan Aviation Academy have all benefited from the DeVos charitable donations in recent years. As the patrons of the West Michigan Aviation Academy, the couple has helped a large number of kids from disadvantaged and minority communities to achieve their dreams.
Besides education, Betsy DeVos is also a known patron of the arts and culture. They have fostered a keen interest in improving the business and management side of arts organizations. The couple also donates heavily to civic projects, leadership development, health and human services, and churches.
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