U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has come under plenty of criticism in her politics, including freely admitting that she and her family have spent millions of dollars in purchasing political advantage. But perhaps a recent move has bought her some grace for that past.
DeVos’s yearly salary as secretary of education is $199,700. This year, she announced that she intends to donate that entire amount in equal parts to four charities: Kids Hope USA, Vision to Learn, Dreams Soar, and the Special Olympics.
Kids Hope USA is a faith-based alternative to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The mentorship program puts adult volunteers in schools to support individual students who are struggling. Vision to Learn provides free exams and eyeglasses to students in underserved communities. The organization claims that two million schoolchildren are in need of glasses that they don’t have. Dreams Soar is a campaign to help girls and young women work towards careers in STEM and aviation, founded by Shaesta Waiz. Waiz has flown solo around the globe to inspire young women. The Special Olympics is a competitive sports organization for people with disabilities.
Just shy of $50,000 each, these generous donations are much appreciated. Organizers from the Special Olympics say they have only a “verbal commitment” from DeVos, but according to spokeswoman Liz Hill, the ethics department of the Education Department has officially cleared the private donations.
There’s been no comment from the White House on DeVos’s charitable actions. However, one of the recipients may raise eyebrows in the Trump administration. The Special Olympics in particular are targets of the newest budget proposal, potentially stripping them of $12.5 million in federal funding. DeVos’s $50,000 donation ($0.05 million) may not make much of a dent in that loss, but it could be seen as implied criticism.
DeVos has previously been quite open about not needing her paycheck, so it’s good of her to pass it on to those who do.