Betsy DeVos: Philanthropist and Charter School Advocate

While Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is sometimes described by opponents as being insulated and tone-deaf to the problems of common people, those who know her Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she and her husband Dick DeVos have lived for years, don’t see her that way at all. In Grand Rapids, associates describe her as being generous and practical, and they aren’t sure how she has aroused so much ire from those on the left of the political spectrum.


She and her husband are extremely wealthy and both are children of highly successful Michigan entrepreneurs. They have used their combined wealth over the decades to push, often successfully, for various conservative reforms, and Betsy DeVos is a strong backer of charter schools. In particular, she was a key figure in the establishment of numerous charter schools in Detroit.


Betsy DeVos traces her ancestry to the Netherlands where, in the 1800’s, there was a nationwide debate over whether religious schools should receive the same government assistance as secular ones. Now, with a similar debate taking place in the United States, DeVos is very much on the side of religious schools. While some in the United States say that government funding of religious charter schools is a violation of the principle of separation of church and state, DeVos sees it more as leveling the playing field by providing the same resources to private schools as public ones.


Background of Betsy DeVos


The Secretary of Education for President Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, was born in 1958 and raised in Holland, Michigan. She is the daughter of successful auto parts maker Edgar Prince. She attended Calvin College and later married Dick DeVos, whose father founded Amway corporation. The couple have four adult children and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The pair have long been active in support of various conservative causes, and Betsy DeVos is a strong believer in the charter school movement and advocates for government vouchers for private schools.


To learn more, visit