Intimate Conversation With Betsy DeVos By Philanthropy Magazine

For decades now, Betsy DeVos has been leading the movement of educational reform. She is a natural-born reformer and has had a love of education since attending Calvin College. While she was attending Calvin, she found herself getting involved with the campus political groups. She quickly found she had a passion for it. It has been over 30 years now and she has led multiple political positions such as action committees, party organizations and a lot of campaigns.


As with politics, DeVos loves to look for new solutions to the never-ending social problems. She currently holds the position of chairperson for Windquest Group. They are a group which invests in manufacturing, clean energy and technology. She founded this firm in 1989 with her husband, Dick DeVos.


Philanthropy Magazine Interview


Recently, Betsy was interviewed about her life, political views, love of educational reform and school choice programs by Philanthropy Magazine. One of the first questions they asked her was about how she felt school choice voucher programs have progressed since they first started more than 25 years ago.


It has been a couple decades since the first private-school voucher program was put into place in Wisconsin. Betsy said that she is very pleased with how school choice programs have come along since then. She has been involved with educational reform for as long as she can remember. When her kids were school age, she remembers seeing parents doing whatever they had to in order to make sure their kids received a good education. Parents just want to ensure their kids are able to learn in a safe environment that fosters their minds and creativity. For some parents, paying school tuition was a huge sacrifice because the public schools they had access to weren’t safe or a good learning environment.


How Betsy Became More Involved In Educational Choice


In the 1990s, Betsy was serving on two different national charities. Each of these charities worked to expand the educational choice programs by using tax credits and voucher systems. She and her husband, Dick DeVos, were politically involved in helping to pass the first charter-school bill for Michigan in 1993. Years later, they tried to change the state’s constitution to allow voucher systems and tax-credit scholarships. Unfortunately, that was not a successful venture for them at the time. They were saddened because they knew how many families in the state were desperate for better school options for their children.


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Vijay Eswaran, Co-founder, QI Group of Companies

Vijay Eswaran is the co-founder of QI Group of Companies where he also serves as the Executive Chairman. In 1998, Eswaran together with others founded the QI Group which began as an e-commerce based conglomerate. These businesses include direct sales, telecommunications, luxury, training and conference management, lifestyle and leisure, logistics, and much more.

Eswaran graduated from London School of Economics (LSE) with a socio-economics degree in 1984. His impressive track record involves working with top rated companies such as IBM, various positions in Europe, USA, Canada, and Australia. He, later on, returned to Asia in the early 90s where he switched to entrepreneurship.

Working with like-minded individuals, he founded a direct selling and training company which has currently grown into a multi-business conglomerate popularly known as QI group. The company has been in business for almost 18 years and has managed to open branches in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Its presence in the market has been felt in close to 30 countries through a broad spectrum of subsidiary companies.

Besides business, Eswaran is a highly esteemed motivational speaker who lectures across the world on many topics ranging from business and social matters. He has been called upon to speak in top universities, leadership forums, and management summits. They include World Economic Forum, Commonwealth Business Forums and much more.

Furthermore, Eswaran is a prominent philanthropist. He established the RYTHM Foundation, which is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of his QI Group company that runs philanthropic activities in various countries across the world. Additionally, he established RF’s local chapter, Vijayratnam Foundation – specifically in his late father’s honor. The foundation works closely with local NGOs and various charity organizations on multiple projects related to youth development and mentoring, special education, and women empowerment.

Vijay Eswaran has appeared and mentioned in Asia’s Philanthropy figures by Forbes in 2011. He won the lifetime achievement award for Regional Philanthropy recently given to him by Asian Strategic Leadership Institute in Malaysia. He was also awarded the International Leader in Global Business Strategy award handed to him by GOPIO.

Betsy DeVos’ Legacy of Philanthropy

In recent months, Betsy DeVos has become best-known as the Secretary of Education. Before that, she garnered notice as Chair of Michigan Republicans. She was a big player in her husband’s campaign for governor of their home state. She has had a long, active career in politics.



A Well-Rounded Person


But DeVos is so much more than that. She’s a mom, a businessperson and a philanthropist. A graduate of Calvin College, she sits on the Board of the Windquest Group. This group is made up of a number of companies. Windquest invests in everything from manufacturing to clean energy. DeVos has a wide-ranging knowledge of the way multiple industries operate.



Giving Back


But business success is not Betsy DeVos’ only focus. In fact, DeVos has given generously to causes she believes in for over 30 years. She is passionate about reform. Broken institutions like the public education system trouble her. DeVos is grateful that she could make another choice for her children, namely, a private education. But she also knows that not everyone can afford to do that.



Christian Spirit


DeVos is a Christian, which informs her philanthropic spirit. It troubles her to see people, especially children, being held back by a system that underperforms. That’s exactly what she and her husband were witness to in their home city of Grand Rapids.


Dick DeVos attended public schools in Grand Rapids as a youth. When his children were old enough, the system was underperforming and in many ways, unsafe. He and his wife were upset by the idea that their tax dollars were going to waste. They were especially distressed to see working-class parents take on two extra jobs to give their children a better future.


Betsy DeVos knows that if people can’t develop their god-given abilities, all of society suffers. She wants to give all children a chance to use the gifts they’ve been endowed with, and to develop into healthy, stable adults.



Lasting Reform


This is where DeVos’ business background informs her giving. She knows that if parents are granted the ability to choose, the public school system will have to shape up. When there’s competition in the marketplace, service providers have to maximize efficiencies and continue to improve.


She believes that school choice can revolutionize America by creating lasting change. It’s already happening in states like Florida. DeVos is well-aware that school choice systems work in countries like the Netherlands, too.


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