Betsy DeVos Exercises Her Freedom of $peech

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The Supreme Court has decided money is a form of speech. In that spirit, let's see how Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks about education when she's off the clock by looking at some of the money the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation doled out in 2016. (To be completely fair, Betsy stepped down as chairwoman of the foundation on November 22, 2016, after the election, so she wasn't in charge the last 39 days of last year.)

The Foundation gave out $14,381,000 in 2016. Of that, 45 percent, about $6.5 million, went to Education.

Below is a partial list of the foundation's education-related giving as reported by Politico. It's heavy on school choice advocacy and religious schools.
Among the recipients: Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education ($52,000); the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm that has funded school choice lawsuits across the country ($35,000); the Alliance for School Choice, which Betsy DeVos previously chaired ($290,000); Success Academy Charter Schools ($150,000); and West Michigan Aviation Academy, the charter school that Dick DeVos helped create ($65,000).

— On the political front, the DeVos foundation gave $155,000 and pledged another $150,000 to the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a conservative think tank in Grand Rapids, Mich. It also funded the Great Lakes Education Foundation, which advocates for school choice policies in Michigan, with a $200,000 grant. And in Washington, the foundation supported the American Enterprise Institute with a $750,000 donation.

— Funding media: The DeVos foundation, as reported last year, in 2016 fulfilled a $400,000 grant to The 74 Media Inc., which runs the education-focused website by the same name. In addition, the foundation last year gave $75,000 to The National Review Institute.

— Colleges and universities receiving money from the foundation in 2016 included: Davenport University ($105,000); Ferris State University ($120,000); Hillsdale College ($35,000); Michigan State University ($200,000 plus $800,000 approved for future payment); O’Moore College of Design ($10,000); Princeton University ($12,000); Rollins College ($50,000); and University of Maryland College Park Foundation ($750,000).

— Also receiving donations: the Ada Christian School Society ($55,000); the Grand Rapids Christian School Association ($350,000); Rehoboth Christian School Association in New Mexico ($10,000); School of Missionary Aviation Technology in Ionia, Mich. ($100,000); and St. Anthony Educational Foundation in Chapel Hill, N.C. ($2,000). The Potter’s House — a Christian school in Michigan that Betsy DeVos has credited with helping to spark her interest in education advocacy — received $600,000 from the foundation and an additional grant of the same amount for future payment.
Over the lifetime of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, it has given $136 million, of which $40 million has gone to education. That's a lot of money for the conservative side of the educational aisle, but it doesn't put her anywhere near the top of right wing education donors. The very conservative Walton Foundation, funded by the Walmart fortune, puts DeVos's family to shame. It gave $190 million in 2016 to education alone.



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