When discussing outsized political donations, Dick and Betsy DeVos are at the top of the list. However, these political donations are mere pocket change when it comes to the amount the DeVos family donates to charities.
The DeVos family focuses their energy on education when giving to charitable causes. In 2015, over 26 percent or $3 million of their charitable donations was allotted to educational objectives. This amount does not include the extra 3 percent or $357,000 that they contributed to groups that support educational reform.
When questioned, DeVos says this spending supports their priority of improving education for all children. Some of the DeVos’ critics claim that the vouchers and charter schools sponsored by these donations are stealing tax dollars from the more traditional public schools.
However, Betsy DeVos says the contributions allow choice for students who do not have any options. She also supports the idea that the goal of giving opportunities helps to address the issue of the public school system. This statement, DeVos ensures, is not a criticism of the employees of the public system.
The main components used to select for financial support from the DeVos family include academic rigor, adult support and supervision, and accountability. Some of these programs include Grand Rapids Christian Schools and the Potter’s House.
They have also launched an aviation-themed charter school. This school is credited as being the first in the country. It is located at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school’s yearly fundraiser has turned into a massive gala under the guidance of the DeVos family.
Some of the A-list speakers at this gala have included President George W. Bush. This unique charter school focuses on STEM, robotics, and aeronautical engineering. Some of the students attending the school choose to commute for more than an hour one way to participate.
After education, the DeVos family focuses on Arts and Culture for their charitable donations. In 2015, 21 percent or $2.4 million of their philanthropic contributions was allotted to Arts & Culture. They split this money into a variety of categories such as civic, community, leadership and development, Public Policy, and churches.
When the Betsy and Dick donate money, they have a no strings attached policy. This policy allows the recipient to spend the money as they see fit. Each new cause requires a family discussion, and sometimes the DeVos children believe more should be given.
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