Philanthropy Hero: How Betsy DeVos Has Changed Lives

Mel Trotter was living on the streets in Detroit all alone. She didn’t have basic supplies like food, water, or shelter. She didn’t have anyone to lean on. However, that all changed when Betsy DeVos got involved with philanthropy in Detroit. She gave funds and helped create programs with faith-based organizations there that assisted needy people with the basics including hot showers, clothing, shelter, social services, driver’s licenses, and getting jobs. Trotter was one of the success stories, as she was able to turn her life around by getting a job, getting an apartment, and doing it all in under 6 weeks. Betsy DeVos has a long track record of giving back in this sort of way. She was heavily involved in promoting Grand Action, which brought government leaders together with business icons in order to solve difficult problems in the inner cities of Michigan counties. She even donated $7.5 million of her own money to schools in order to help children succeed, who she feels so strongly about. Many former recipients of her scholarships and other forms of aid have gone on to become MBAs in business or start their own ventures. Visit the website U.S. Department of Education to know more.

Betsy DeVos and her husband, mainly through their organizations, have given over $1 billion. They gave about $90 million away in one year recently to various causes such as education, faith, health and community services, and even the arts. This is very encouraging coming from our current Secretary of Education. In this day and age, it seems almost impossible to find someone in public office that is actually willing to put their money where their mouth is and donate in true way. Betsy always talks about how much she cares about parents having choices about where to send their kids and that we shouldn’t have to be limited to which zip codes we live in. I agree.

She has been crusading for children and education and other philanthropic actions for 30 years now. Ever since she attended college, she has been heavily involved in politics and making sure people have as many rights as the next person, even if they are from a part of town that doesn’t have as much money. Organizations that she has founded, led, or been a part of include Children First America, American Education Reform Council, Kids First, Education Freedom Fund, Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, DeVos Institute for Arts Management, Educational Choice Movement, and Alliance for School Choice. Betsy Devos track record is a never-ending list of support for important causes. In this day and age, public education is failing us. But I’m excited to have someone in the cabinet who is actually willing to change education for the better and has a history of doing it. Visit betsydevos.com to know more about Betsy.

Kenneth Griffin of Citadel

“Our success is driven by top talent, a relentless focus on research, and an exceptional ability to monetize investment ideas.” That was said by the 89th richest person in the United States according to Forbes, Ken Griffin on valuewalk.com. His success story is very much unlike other stories. His is one that follows sheer focus and determination.

In 1987, while still at Harvard, Kenneth Griffin got a fax machine, a computer, and a telephone and started trading from his dorm room. From this meek and aspirational beginning, Griffin slowly rose and caught the attention of Frank Meyer, the hedge-fund pioneer and co-founder of Glenwood Partners based in Chicago. Griffin’s relationship and interaction with Frank led him to see the world differently, and he saw an opportunity lurking in the business community and he quickly got hold of it.

In 1990, Ken Griffin established Citadel. Unlike any other financial institution, Citadel is a diverse financial institution. The Citadel group involves Citadel, which is an industry-leading alternative asset manager; Citadel Securities, which is one of the stellar liquidity providers in Americas capital markets; and Citadel Technologies, which is a IT solutions provider in investment management technology. Today, Citadel has grown to employ more than 1,250 people worldwide.

Griffin is an avid supporter of community change and improvement. He is well known for supporting any educational causes that push for this agenda. He also sits on the board of directors of the Chicago Public Education Fund. He is also a proud supporter of his alma mater where he gained the necessary skills and techniques that lay the foundation for his business career. He donated $150 million in financial aid support towards the school. Mr. Griffin’s benevolences to ameliorate and enrich the lives of others have seen him kick in more than $250 million from his personal contributions as well as through the Citadel Foundation. In particular, most of these contributions have gone to the Art Institute and the University of Chicago’s Lurie Childrens Home.

Mr. Griffin loves art. As a matter of fact, he is one of the most active art vendees in the world. He has actually dedicated his time exclusively to art collection and patronage. In 1999, he paid a record price of $60 million for the Curtain, “Jug and Fruit Bowl” painting by world renowned painter Paul Cezanne. In October 2006, Dreamworks co-founder David Geffen sold Griffin his Jasper Johns painting “False Start” for $80 million.

Griffin also has a vested interest in the politics of the United States. Griffin prides himself in being a libertarian. He has made numerous political contributions and donations to political parties, candidates, and organizations that share his views of having a limited government. Organizations such as American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, and Restore Our Future have greatly benefited from his contributions and donations. In 2012, he plunked for Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency and also made contributions to Republicans Eric Cantor of Virginia and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. He also donated $2.5 million to the Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner.

About Bruce Levenson

Bruce Levenson is an American businessperson who is a philanthropist and former owner of NBA team. Mr. Bruce Levenson was an owner of Atlanta Hawks LLC that owns the Hawks basketball team and Philips Arena. He has served as the Hawks Governor since the year 2004. In 1997, Mr. Bruce Levenson founded United Communications Group. He is a founding member and an executive of the board of directors of a publicly traded IT company TechTarget.

  • His education and early life

He was born to a Jewish couple in Washington D.C. and was brought up in Chavy Chase, Maryland. He took his college studies in St. Louis at Washington University. He later attended American University where he finally graduated from the law school. While he was studying at the school of law, he started journalism career at Washington Star.

Bruce Levenson career

  • UCG

Mr. Bruce Levenson together with Ed Peskowitz in 1997 co-founded United Communications Group that is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The company was situated at Levenson’s apartment. They later published a newsletter, Oil Express. The newsletter focused on the advancements in the oil industry. UCG later published other newsletters including databases for instance Oil Price Information Service. UCG is a private company that focuses on analysis of data and news in various industries:

  • Mortgage banking
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Telecommunications

The company also owns GasBuddy. This is a mobile software that enables drivers in identifying regional low gas prices.

  • Atlanta Hawks

In 2004, Atlanta Spirit LLC was founded with an intention of buying Atlanta Hawks from a Broadcasting Company, Turner. Levenson, as well as Ed Peskowitz, is a major partner of Atlanta Hawks LLC. The association is a group of businesspersons who own the Phillips Arena and a basketball team. Mr. Levenson is a managing partner of the team and a member of the NBA Executive Board.

As the team’s general manager and the head of the basketball operations, in 2012 he hired Danny Ferry. In the month of March 2014, Levenson and his wife accompanied the team on a trip to the US Holocaust Museum. In attendance was Levenson’s mother-in-law, Irene Boyarsky, who happened to be a Holocaust survivor. Levenson narrated of her experience before the trip and after.

  • Other achievements of Bruce Levenson

He is a founding member and a board executive of the TechTarget. The company developed out of the UCG, and Bruce functioned as the managing director. He served in this office from 1999 to 2012. He also served as a legal adviser to a private firm BIA Digital Partners. He was on the executive board of directors of NEPA. NEPA stands for Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association.