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It’s Not Philanthropy, It’s Ideological and Class Warfare: How the DeVos Family Foundation contributions complement their political donations – Part II

November 1, 2016


Last week we looked at how the DeVos Family uses their vast financial resources to influence elections and purchase policy, particularly at the local and state level. We also began the process of investigating how their political funding is complemented by their philanthropic contributions.

We presented recent examples of the DeVos Family’s efforts to influence the 2016 elections and compared that specifically with the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation contributions. It seems rather clear that in addition to the DeVos Family’s commitment to a patriarchal/heterosexist brand of christianity, their philanthropic giving also supports projects which furthers their deep commitment to Neoliberal Capitalism.

Since last week, it has been reported by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network that nine members of the DeVos Family have been the largest contributors to the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) in the most recent election cycle. Each of the nine members of the DeVos Family have contributed $40,000 to the HRCC, for a combined $360,000. The $360,000 that the DeVos Family has contributed to the HRCC was just for the period of July 21 through October 20. 

What we will look at in Part II is the remaining DeVos Family foundations and where they have directed their funding to demonstrate how it fits within their ideological and class warfare framework.

Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundationscreen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-38-17-pm

The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation also contributes larger sums of money to the organizations that fit within their ideological and class warfare framework. One such entity is the Acton Institute. The Grand Rapids-based think tank, which believes that Capitalism and Christianity make good bed fellows, has received $505,000 from the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation according to the 990 reports for 2012 and 2013.

Another Capitalist entity that they have contributed to is Endeavor, which likes to refer to itself as a non-profit for entrepreneurs. The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation contributed $162,000 in 2013, according to their 990s, but they also play a significant role in having a staff person from their foundation sit on the regional board of Endeavor in Detroit, Nate Lowery

However, the major area of philanthropy for Dick and Betsy DeVos is in the area of an attack on public education. They do this through several organizations with their funding. First, there is the DC-based entity called the Alliance for School Choice. In 2013, they contributed $250,000 to this group, which promotes the privatization of public education.

Another anti-public education source for DeVos philanthropy is the Foundation for Excellence in Education ($100,000 in 2013). Betsy DeVos sits on the board of directors, along with Condoleezza Rice and the board president, Jeb Bush.

Lastly, there is the Great Lakes Education Foundation, which has also received substantial funding from the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation. ($200,000 alone in 2013) The Great Lakes Education Foundation is a source of funding that supports the Great Lakes Education Project, of which Betsy DeVos is also a board member, along with the DeVos political operative, Greg McNeilly.

Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation

The Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation is not nearly as big as the other DeVos foundations, but they contribute in similar ways, thus supporting the link between philanthropy and the family’s more overt political contributions.

Dan & Pamela also give to the usual suspects of pro-capitalism, such as the Mackinac Center for Public Policy ($90,000) and the Acton Institute ($50,000). They also contribute significantly to pro-business universities, such as Northwood ($1.3 million). Lastly, the Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation also throws its money behind education efforts that promotes privatization, through the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation. ($150,000) This entity has as its partners major corporations and private donors that reads like a who’s who of those who are benefiting most from neoliberal capitalism.


Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation

Like the Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation, the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation is smaller than other family members, but they too use philanthropic dollars to fund ideological and class warfare endeavors.

Doug & Maria has contributed large sums to the Acton Institute ($435,000), the American Enterprise Institute ($2 million) and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy ($100,000). This DeVos foundation has also supported anti-LGBT projects, like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), with a contribution of $250,000.

It should also be noted that the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation gave $100,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative in recent years. The Clinton Global Initiative has come under increasing scrutiny because of it role in profiting off of misery and its role in shaping US foreign policy

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