There are few names as synonymous with philanthropy as that of Dick DeVos. For decades, the DeVos family has supported a diverse list of causes, especially education and medical care. Known for spearheading the school choice movement in Michigan, I believe the DeVos family’s activism is one of the major factors in the spread of school-voucher programs throughout the country, which has been one of the most promising developments in improving educational outcomes in poorer communities.
In a recent interview with Betsy DeVos, Dick DeVos’s wife, the philanthropist discusses how couple’s initial financial support of a private school in Grand Rapids led to their involvement in bringing school choice to Michigan. They were inspired by the fact that they were parents of young children themselves and were motivated by the desire to afford the same opportunities to other children who were deprived of quality education by the status quo.
In the 90s, Dick and Betsy DeVos actively campaigned for the charter school movement, which in my view has been the single most positive development in K-12 education in the last thirty years. In Mrs. DeVos’s opinion, Florida has been the great success story in the charter school and school voucher revolution, with around 50,000 students enrolled at schools of choice.
Improved outcomes and quality in many cities and states, as far as I am concerned, can be traced to the school choice movement and the activism of the DeVos family.