Born into a family dedicated to their community, Betsy DeVos has carried on their legacy through her involvement in a variety of philanthropic organizations. Born in Holland, Michigan, Betsy was raised by Edgar and Elsa Prince. Her father, a successful businessman, also founded the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation which donates to churches, schools, and many other community activities. Betsy, much like her father, has been dedicated to enriching her community through improving education, the arts, and other philanthropic work.
WIDENING THE SCOPE ON EDUCATION
Betsy became involved with The Potter’s House school in Grand Rapids, MI, after looking into schools for her own children. Upon learning that many families, because of financial hardships, struggled so their children could attend the school, she set up scholarships to help ease their financial burden. Knowing that this problem was country wide and not feeling that scholarships were enough, she joined the boards of “Children First America” and “America Education Reform Council” whose focus has been to expand school choice through tax credits and vouchers. Since then, she has dedicated herself to giving her community and country a voice for educational reform. In addition to sitting on several boards where school choice is paramount, Betsy has been instrumental in expanding charter schools through the Great Lakes Education Project. This led to the start of the American Federation for Children, an advocacy group for school choice. A board member of Foundation For Excellence since 2012, Betsy believes that parents know what is best for their children and she helps to provide the recourses they need to make informed decisions about their child’s education.
Another passion Betsy DeVos has is for Artprize, which was founded by her son, Rick, in 2009. Artprize is a community/global event that draws thousands of artists each year. Their work is judged by the public and by professionals. The goal is to encourage people to have a civil discourse over what is, and is not, art. They believe that art puts people and their opinions on an equal playing field; there is no right or wrong way to look at art. This event draws thousands of people into the Grand Rapids community each year. Another way Betsy supports her community is through Project Clarity. The idea for Project Clarity came about after Betsy and her husband noticed an abundance of algae growing in Lake Macatawa. Knowing the devastating effects this algae could cause, they coordinated with others in their community to clean it up. The effort to clean up Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa watershed is an intensive project that is expected to take up to 12 years and 12 million dollars to complete.
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