Dick DeVos certainly has been known as a giver and many local schools, hospitals and non-profit groups have benefited greatly from his generosity. But he’s always kept the amounts he’s contributed quite private and makes no attempt to put either his net worth or charity in the spotlight, though various media outlets certainly have listed him many times. But just this last month after President Donald Trump chose Dick’s wife Betsy to be Secretary of Education, the DeVos’s decided to make known the great mystery that many have wondered about. It’s now been reported that the DeVos’s have given around $139 million in their lifetime, and only a small percentage of that has gone to political campaigns.
Dick DeVos’s charity is something he learned growing up from his father, Richard DeVos Sr. Richard DeVos Sr. co-founded Amway Corporation and also bought the NBA’s Orlando Magic in 1991. Dick DeVos saw his father give back to the Grand Rapids community as a young man and decided to follow in those footsteps. Dick worked under his father at Amway for most of his early career, and after becoming vice president in 1984 started assuming more executive responsibilities there. Dick became CEO when his father stepped down in 1993 and soon began growing operations overseas and bringing in a large amount of profits. Dick left the company in 2002 to run another company that he and Betsy had founded in 1989, The Windquest Group.
Dick and Betsy’s philanthropy started out with education and private schools in particular. Their mission has been to make private and charter schools affordable for underprivileged children and through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation and several other non-profit groups such as Education Freedom Fund, they helped start scholarships. They’ve also been at the center of education reform legislation efforts including one in the year 2000 to try and establish private school vouchers and tax credits, but were unsuccessful. They did continue to work with charter schools throughout the years and in 2010 they helped start the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
The DeVos’s have also given to several civic organizations including Grand Action Committee, a council of local leaders that helped revitalize the downtown area of Grand Rapids. They’ve also given to children’s hospitals, libraries, and even made a large donation to the Kennedy Center in Washington for their art institute which was promptly renamed the Dick and Betsy DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Dick is also a former political candidate who ran for governor of Michigan in the 2006 gubernatorial race, but he came up short to Jennifer Granholm. The DeVos’s did later help get a right-to-work law passed in 2012 after seeing the success the legislation had in Wisconsin. Dick DeVos also has engaged in fun activities such as the Chicago-Mackinac sailing race.