Betsy’s Benefactors: Millions for Charters and Christian Causes
Politico’s daily email today provided this handy list of the benefactors of Betsy DeVos’ billions:
– The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation approved $400,000 in funding for Loudspeaker Media Inc., helping former CNN anchor Campbell Brown launch her education site, The 74. Brown said recently that she’d recuse herself from editorial involvement of her site’s coverage of DeVos. A couple of days before that decision, however, Brown authored an op-ed for The 74 that praised DeVos. The foundation also gave $400,000 to Brown’s nonprofit, The Partnership for Educational Justice.
– Success Academy Charter Schools received $150,000 from the foundation in 2015, with another $150,000 approved for future payment. The New York City charter school chain’s founder, Eva Moskowitz, who was also considered for Trump’s Education secretary, tweeted that she was “thrilled” about DeVos as the pick. The DeVos Family Foundation also donated $5,000 to GREAAT Schools, Inc., a non-profit charter school management company.
– The Potter’s House, a Christian school in Grand Rapids, Mich., received $200,000 from the foundation in 2015. In an interview with Philanthropy Roundtable, Betsy DeVos, who hails from Michigan, credited her visit to the school several decades ago as helping to spark her interest in school choice advocacy.
– The couple gave $100,000 to the nonprofit Alliance for School Choice, which works closely with the American Federation for Children, of which DeVos recently stepped down as chair. DeVos has also sat on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The foundation gave the group $50,000.
– Conservative organizations: Betsy DeVos sits on the board of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy. In 2015 her family foundation donated $750,000 to the Washington, D.C.-based think tank – and approved another $1 million in future funding for it. In addition, the DeVos’ foundation donated $10,000 to Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm that has funded school choice lawsuits across the country, and $6,500 to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Inc., a group that promotes conservative viewpoints on college campuses.
– Colleges and universities: University of Maryland College Park Foundation, which has an arts management institute named after the DeVoses, received $500,000. The School of Missionary Aviation Technology, which offers undergraduate certificates in aircraft maintenance and flight and whose goal “is to equip men and women to serve God in mission aviation,” received $150,000, with another $100,000 approved. Ferris State University, a public school in Michigan, received $113,500. Davenport University , a private nonprofit school in Michigan, got $55,000, with another $100,000 approved. In addition: Rollins College ($50,000); Calvin College, Betsy DeVos’ undergraduate alma mater ($35,000); Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ($10,000); the University of Michigan’s Food Allergy Center ($10,000); Grand Rapids Community College Foundation ($5,000); Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical Center ($500); and Wake Forest University ($250).
– The couple donated to a wide range of Christian-related education groups, such as the Grand Rapids Christian School Association($350,000); the Ada Christian School Society ($50,000), the Rehoboth Christian School Association ($10,000), and Christian Schools International ($1,000).
– The DeVos’ foundation also donated to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts ($250,000), where Betsy DeVos previously served on the board; ArtPrize Grand Rapids ($400,000), an art festival found by the family; the Boy Scouts of America ($305,000); the Xprize Foundation ($1.8 million) and a number of Christian ministries, churches and pro-life groups. Read the full list here.
It is heartening to see Ms. DeVos support for the arts and based on a quick scan of its web page the Prize looks like it has a wide range of problems it is attempting to tackle. But it was equally distressing to see that pro-charter publications and a host of charter schools got millions of dollars from her… and not a single public K-12 school got a dollar. And while state funded Ferris State received $113,000, that paled in comparison the Christian schools who received over $600,000!
Of all the items on the list, though, the one that piqued my curiosity the most was this one:
The School of Missionary Aviation Technology, which offers undergraduate certificates in aircraft maintenance and flight and whose goal “is to equip men and women to serve God in mission aviation,” received $150,000, with another $100,000 approved.
Here’s hoping Mr. DeVos’ priorities change once she takes office… but I have my doubts!