Inside Philanthropy recently featured Dick DeVos in an article explaining his life and career. The article begins with a discussion on how Richard Devos earned his fortune. In particular, the article described that Richard DeVos earned his wealth through “direct marketing” schemes. While “direct marketing” schemes are a controversial topic, the article handled this controversial topic deftly. It acknowledged the criticism but also pointed out the great success it brought to Richard Devos. The focus of this article, however, was not Richard Devos’ wealth but was instead what Dick DeVos did with that wealth.
Dick DeVos uses his wealth to influence a variety of important institutions in society. The primary beneficiaries of Dick DeVos’ generosity are initiatives for education reform and politicians who reflect his conservative values. His investments in education reform have proven particularly successful. These investments have allowed thousands of poor students to attend and succeed in private schools. Similarly, Dick DeVos created the first public charter high school for aviation. Dick DeVos also gives generously to the arts. One of their most innovative pursuits is ArtPrize. ArtPrize is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a competition decided by public vote and an expert jury.
Dick DeVos’ donations also reflect his belief in free market economics. He was a significant supporter of a right to work law in Michigan that would have prevented forced unionization of workers. In addition to his advocacy for a right to work, DeVos also gave to the Heritage Foundation, which is a think tank based on principles of free enterprise and limited government.