Betsy DeVos: Philanthropist, Activist, Businesswoman

Betsy DeVos is an education activist, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She was born and raised in Michigan into a wealthy family. Her father was Edgar Prince, a billionaire industrialist who founded Prince Corporation, a car parts supplier based in Michigan. The DeVos family is among the wealthiest in the entire state. Her husband Dick DeVos is a multi-billionaire heir to the Amway family. Betsy grew up as a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North American. After graduating from a Christian private school, Betsy received her undergraduate degree from Calvin College in political science and business administration.

Betsy became active with the Michigan Republican Party in 1982, where she served as a local precinct delegate. Between 1992 and 1997 DeVos was a Republican National Committeewoman and was a chairwoman of the state’s Republican Party until 2000. After leaving for a brief time, DeVos came back to the party in 2003, where she ran for party chairman was elected with absolutely no opposition. When it came to Bush’s re-election in campaign in 2004, DeVos personally raised over $150,000. Betsy DeVos also hosted a fundraiser in her home in 2008 that headlined former President George Bush. While George Bush was President, Betsy spent two years at the National Republican Senatorial Committee as the finance chairperson and worked closely with the Republican Party on several projects. Her family, the Devos’, has been active in the party for many decades, especially as donors. It is estimated that the DeVos family has donated more than $17 million to the Republican Party, between candidates and committees, since 1989.

In 1989, Betsy and her husband Dick founded the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which is responsible for helping organizations that focus on community, arts, justice, leadership, and education. Their foundation is motivated by faith and their support of charitable organizations has reached over $139 million in donations. The foundation has been ranked on Forbes list of America’s Top Givers. Betsy was appointed in 2004 by President Bush to the board of directors at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she stayed until 2010. While on that board she funded a center that taught arts managers and board members how to fundraise properly and how to properly manage their institutions. In 2010, she and her family donated $22.5 million to continue this ambitious endeavor, given in the name of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. DeVos and her family founded an international art competition named ArtPrize in 2009. Betsy has also created an annual scholarship, named the Betsy and Dick DeVos Scholars for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, which is given to students at Northwood University. Betsy DeVos is even a member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by Jeb Bush.