Dick DeVos has made philanthropy a major hallmark of his career both in business and civic duty. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has been the driving force behind much of his charity work, and he’s made a huge impact in the Grand Rapids area both in urban development and in local education. Dick and his wife Betsy certainly are Republican Party activists, including when Betsy served as chair in the Michigan Republican Party. But the DeVos’s contributions to local hospitals, colleges, libraries, museums and even churches have far outweighed any political donations. Most people have wondered how much the Dick DeVos’s give in charity each year, and it was recently disclosed that Dick and Betsy’s lifetime giving totals around $139 million.
Dick DeVos has been able to establish his philanthropy work in the Grand Rapids area due largely to his success as the owner of the Windquest Group and CEO of Amway Corporation prior to that. Amway Corporation was founded by Dick’s father, Richard DeVos Sr. who is also the owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. As CEO of Amway Corporation, Dick was responsible for multilevel marketing operations of the company from the manufacturing of its products, to the sales and distributions to independent business owners who could in turn sell the products to their customers. As Chairman of The Windquest Group, Dick has built a portfolio of investments in local Michigan businesses that specialize in clean energy technology, venture capital, clean bottled water products and home storage units.
Dick and Betsy have long fought for school of choice and more freedom in education decisions. Dick at one time won election to the Michigan State Board of Education where he worked to reform education policies. He later helped start the Education Freedom Fund to supply scholarship programs for low income families to attend private schools. The DeVos’s also launched the Great Lakes Education Project in 2002, and in 2010 they founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a special charter school with a curriculum based in aviation.
As a political activist and a staunch believer in free market economics, Dick DeVos at one time decided he needed to change the economic climate in Michigan by running for governor in 2006. He was unsuccessful in that endeavor, but in 2012 he joined a coalition of Republicans who fought to bring in a right-to-work law. Dick and Betsy continue to fight for education reform across the nation, and will have even more leverage to do so as Betsy was recently chosen by President Donald Trump to be Secretary of Education.