Dick DeVos Tells Public About $139 Million In Philanthropy At Foundation
Dick DeVos decided to do something he had usually stayed away from in years past. This last January in the days leading up to his wife Betsy’s hearings for Secretary of Education, he decided to tell the public just how much the couple had given to their various non-profit entities and channeled through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. When all was said and done, Dick DeVos’s number on the lifetime giving was $139 million. The DeVos’s have always believed in generosity as part of their business activities, and while they’ve always supported Republican political candidates, much of their charity has gone to schools, churches, hospitals, aviation alliances, museums and art centers.
Dick DeVos began in the multilevel marketing industry as a manager and then executive for Amway Corporation. His father Richard DeVos Sr. had built Amway and turned it into a highly acclaimed direct sales force. Dick and his brothers Daniel and Douglas started building upon their father’s work by exploring the overseas markets and bringing in more sales from those markets. In 1993 Dick became CEO of Amway when his father retired. He launched a new company titled Alticor which started streamlining Amway’s operations and turning the company to higher profits, and more distribution centers opened overseas. In 2002 Dick left Amway and turned his attention to a company he had started in 1989 known as The Windquest Group.
The Windquest Group is an investment company that owns shares in several Michigan high-tech companies including Electratherm, Boxed Water and Lex TM3. It is also a chief supporter of ArtPrize, an art competition in Grand Rapids that the DeVos family has long sat on the boards of. In addition to his work at Amway and The Windquest Group, Dick DeVos served as president for the NBA’s Orlando Magic when his father bought the controlling shares in 1991.
Dick and Betsy DeVos took the first part of their philanthropy to education. They’ve believed in school of choice and private schools as being fundamental to young people’s success, and shortly after establishing their foundation they started scholarship funds for Grand Rapids private schools. They also have given to charter schools and formed a charter school association known as the Great Lakes Education Project. They opened a charter school in aviation in 2010 based at the Gerald Ford Airport known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos has given to churches including Mars Hill Bible Church and Willow Creek. He also gave to a Spectrum Health hospital in 2006 and received their Art of Giving award. But most important to him has been his work with freedom spokespeople at Hudson Institute and Heritage Foundation, and in 2006 he ran with their endorsement for governor of Michigan though he came up short in that race. But in 2012 he was back at it again and helped legislators pass a right-to-work law late that year.