Dick DeVos has been featured in many business publications both for his ingenuity and investments, and also for his philanthropy that he recently decided to disclose during the confirmation hearings for his wife Betsy. Dick and Betsy have both been champions for private education in the state of Michigan and nationally, and the work they’ve accomplished in that arena led then President-elect Donald Trump to choose Betsy for Secretary of Education. Due to the pressing nature of confirmation hearings and the need for transparency, Dick and Betsy DeVos answered the longtime mystery of how much their lifetime charity has amounted to. The estimated amount disclosed totaled over $139 million.
Most of Dick DeVos’s $139 million has gone to private schools such as Potter’s House Christian School, Grand Rapids Christian Academy, and several other private K through 12 schools and even private colleges. The funding for these schools has gone through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation and also through their Education Freedom Fund and Children First America. They also once tried to get a ballot initiative for tax credits and vouchers for private schools passed in the year 2000, but the Michigan voters did not approve. In 2010, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation along with funding from their company The Windquest Group started a charter school with an advanced technology curriculum known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos also made a donation to the Kennedy Center in Washington when billionaire David Rubenstein undertook the art institute renovation, and the DeVos’s gift of $22 million had it renamed in their honor. Other organizations he donated to include the Spectrum Health Foundation for which he won the Art of Giving award in 2006. The DeVos’s have also contributed to the Heritage Foundation and Hudson institute, and while the DeVos’s have been highly active in the Michigan Republican Party, only a small percentage of their lifetime giving has gone to political candidates.
Dick DeVos’s philanthropy is something his family has been known for including his father Richard DeVos Sr. who has started many social philanthropies from the profits made at Amway Corporation. Amway is a direct selling company that Richard DeVos Sr. cofounded with Jay Van Andel, and Dick and his brothers Daniel and Douglas have all served as executives at the company. Dick was an executive vice president from 1984 to 1989 and then took over as CEO in 1993. Dick and Betsy also founded The Windquest Group which owns many Michigan startups in retail, food service, energy and technology. Dick DeVos ran for governor in 2006 but came up short in that race, and in 2012 was part of a coalition that had a right-to-work law passed. Dick also authored the book Rediscovering American Values in 1998.