Dick and Betsy DeVos have decided to make known something that much of the general public has wondered about for years; the amount of donations they have made in philanthropy. Dick and Betsy have run a major investment firm, The Windquest Group which has helped local businesses thrive and become a catalyst for alternative energy and technology funding. They’ve spent a lot of the money they’ve made from this business to support local schools, hospitals, museums, libraries and churches. They’ve long chosen to keep quiet on the actual amounts they have given to their community, but they recently disclosed a total amount that is near $139 million in lifetime giving. It’s been well-known that the DeVos family is generous, something that Richard DeVos Sr. Dick’s father started when he became successful in business, and Dick’s brothers Douglas and Daniel and sister Cheri have all started their own foundations.
Dick began his business career at his family’s company after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Northwood University. The company is Amway Corporation, a multilevel marketing company that has distribution centers all across the globe, and Dick helped start many of them during his time as company vice president and later CEO. He ran Amway from 1993 to 2002 before stepping down and turning his business aspirations to The Windquest Group. He also served as president and CEO of the Orlando Magic from 1991 to 1993.
Dick and Betsy’s philanthropy has been channeled through their foundation which they started in 1992. Much of it has involved political activism including targeting education reform as a top priority. Dick and Betsy sent their children to private schools, but they saw that there were many lower income families that struggled to afford those schools. So the DeVos’s started scholarship programs first, and at one time even attempted to lobby private school voucher laws into effect but to no avail. They later started several charter school expansion projects and even founded a charter school of their own, the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick also has worked to make Grand Rapids an attractive place for business and entertainment venues through Grand Action, a committee of civic leaders that led a downtown renovation project throughout the 1990s. He and Betsy also were some of the largest contributors to the Kennedy Center’s Institute for Arts Management, which was subsequently renamed in the DeVos’s honor. The DeVos’s have supported conservative groups such as Action Institute, Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute and have served in the state’s Republican party. Dick once ran for governor in 2006 but came up short on election day. He also helped a coalition of conservatives pass a right-to-work law in 2012.