For over three decades, Betsy Devos has led many political action committees, party organizations, and campaigns. In both business and politics, she and her husband work to find innovative solutions to social issues. In 1989, the DeVos’ founded the Windquest Group. This is an operating group that invests in clean energy, manufacturing, and technology.

 

In an interview with Philanthropy, Betsy Devos expressed her optimism regarding the progress that has been made since Wisconsin instituted the first private school voucher program in the United States. She mentioned that there are now around 250,000 students in private choice programs that are publicly funded in 17 different states. She feels that the growth is accelerating.

 

When it comes to the reason why Betsy Devos has even been interested in the educational movement, she says that there was not a single incident that drew her in. It was something that was gradual. When her children were in school, she and her husband visited a school that had been working with low income families. While they were there, they met parents who were working to keep the school environment safe for their children and create an atmosphere that promoted curiosity and education. As they continued to go back, they realized that the students needed more resources. They had the ability to help, so they began to help individual students at the school. Eventually, this grew into a larger commitment.

 

Because they were able to choose the school that they wanted for their children, they felt that it would only be fair if other parents could do the same for their children. Betsy Devos started a foundation that helps low income families by providing scholarships to children in order for them to decide where the children can go to school. She finds satisfaction in helping these families. However, she wanted to dig deeper and address the real problem.

 

In 2012, both Betsy Devos and her husband tried to change the state constitution to allow vouchers and tax credit scholarships. This was unsuccessful. She felt this was quite tragic considering how limited Michigan parents were when it came to choosing education for their children.

 

Betsy Devos feels that Florida has been her biggest success. They have a tax credit scholarship program that allows families to have more freedom when it comes to where their children will go to school. This program has over helped over 50,000 students. She also feels that major advances have been seen in Indiana and Louisiana. If the states are able to initiate similar programs, she feels that about a million students can be helped every year.

 

Betsy Devos serves as a chairman of the Alliance for School Choice. She has worked for years and is continuing to work as an advocate for the educational-choice movement.

 

To learn more, visit www.betsydevos.com.

In 1991, a master plan made its way into the Grand Rapids news about building a multi-purpose sports and convention arena near the downtown area. During this period. Dick DeVos was preparing to take on a chief operating officer position at Amway Corporation.

 

Dick lobbied against the plan because he had grave concerns that the arena would have an unfavorable impact on downtown Grand Rapids. Because of his public campaign, the Grand Action Group was born. This organization included entrepreneurs responsible for constructing various commercial buildings, including the Grand Rapids City Market and the DeVos Place Convention Center.

 

Dick and Betsy DeVos made many attempts to change policies. The couple is a GOP mega-donor famous for having great political power in changing education and labor regulations. Betsy DeVos expanded charter schools. Dick DeVos created a 2012 law requiring Michigan union-oriented companies to convert to right-to-work businesses.

 

The conservative Republican couple donates large sums of money to charitable organizations. During a period encompassing 16 years, the couple made substantial donations to churches, the arts and education reform issues. The couple also gave away scholarships for students who wanted to attend private schools. In 2006, the couple donated $12.5 million to construct a new children’s hospital.

 

As an experienced airplane pilot, Dick DeVos wanted to establish an aviation charter high school. As part of the Grand Rapids International Airport, the charter school began with a phone call to the chief operating officer at AirTran Airways. Southwest Airlines later purchased AirTran Airways.

 

Dick convinced management at Southwest Airlines to offer direct flights for passengers wishing to travel to St. Louis, Baltimore, Denver and Orlando. His idea for an aviation academy came to fruition in 2010 with West Michigan Aviation Academy.

 

Betsy DeVos mentioned that she and her husband were on the same path regarding education reform and philanthropic endeavors. She said they both want to help underprivileged children have equal educational opportunities. But voters did not approve their education reform amendment to help students attend private schools via tax-funded vouchers mandated by the government.

 

However, the couple persevered until 24 states, along with the District of Columbia, approved school vouchers. Betsy’s wish to reform the educational system led to her appointment as the U.S. Secretary of Education by President Donald Trump. Her approval was not without controversy among some senators.

 

Follow Dick DeVos on Facebook.

Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are longtime business partners. They cofounded Front Page Confidential, a journalism company. They work out of their headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona and write about politics and other things that affect the community.

Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey used to be the owners of Village Voice Media before they decided to sell the company. 10 years ago they were illegally arrested by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The ostensible reason they were arrested was that they had written about secret grand jury proceedings.

The true reason they were arrested, though, was because Joe Arpaio didn’t like that they often provided light on the illegal and disgusting things that he did while serving as the sheriff. At the time they owned Phoenix New Times which is where the articles appeared.

When they owned Village Voice Media Jim Larkin acted as the company’s chief executive officer. Michael Lacey was the executive editor. Because they were the top two executives of Village Voice Media is the reason that Sheriff Joe Arpaio had targeted them for arrest.

Arpaio didn’t like that his department and his own activities had come under scrutiny by this newspaper since he had been elected as sheriff in 1992. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427427/Jim_Larkin and http://james-larkin.com/about/

Front Page Confidential now has a story about their arrest that was written by Stephen Lemons, a distinguished reporter. He explains many of the things that Lacey and Larkin’s newspaper had uncovered about Arpaio such as pregnant women being handcuffed to beds once they were ready to give birth. It also covered the Phoenix New Times articles about how many detainees had died under suspicious circumstances while being held in Arpaio’s jails.

After Larkin and Lacey’s arrests had come to light the day after their arrest it was reported on by news outlets all over the country since it was so obviously illegal that they had been arrested for using their free speech rights. The Maricopa County attorney quickly held a press conference that day announcing that he had shut down their arrest and that they wouldn’t be charged with any crimes.

After these events, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey sued the county for violating their rights. The lawsuit took five years to finally be resolved but in the end they were given a $3.75 million settlement.

They used the money to set up a nonprofit called Frontera Fund. This fund is dedicated to defending the right of immigrants and migrants, two classes of people that Sheriff Arpaio had been targeting for arrest for years. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia and Michael Lacey | Twitter

As for Sheriff Arpaio, he was ordered by a judge to stop targeting Latino drivers for arrest. He ignored the judge, claiming he didn’t understand the order, and was ultimately convicted of criminal contempt of court. Unfortunately, Arpaio had spent a number of years buddying up to Donald Trump, such as being one of the earliest supporters of the birther movement.

This relationship between Arpaio and Trump resulted in him receiving a presidential pardon for his illegal conduct.