Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have always upheld their reputation for generosity, but everyone has always wondered just how much have they truly given to their community? In light of the recent confirmation hearings regarding Betsy DeVos’s appointment to Secretary of Education, the DeVos’s made known that they have given around $139 million in their lifetimes. While both Dick and Betsy have avidly supported and have been active in the Republican Party, less than half of their contributions have gone to political candidates. They have supported many politically conservative organizations such as Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute and have given to many private and charter schools across the state. They’ve also given to local churches, museums and children’s hospitals.
Dick DeVos has impacted the Grand Rapids, MI area throughout his business career. He first worked for his family’s company Amway Corporation, a multilevel marketing firm that his father Richard DeVos Sr. had started along with Jay Van Andel. This company sells products to independent business owners who resell them for a profit. Dick DeVos later became Chairman of The Windquest Group, a company based in Grand Rapids that has investments and controlling shares in local Michigan businesses based in alternative energy, household storage, clean water and venture capital suppliers. Just recently they acquired a Holland, MI brewing company.
Dick and Betsy became very passionate about reforming education in Michigan after seeing the situation in many inner city public schools, and wanting to give other families the chance to attend the private schools they had sent their children to. They founded the Education Freedom Fund as a scholarship provider as part of the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. They once tried to pass legislation allowing for private school vouchers and tax credits but it came up short. They later started a charter school with a curriculum in aircraft flight and mechanics called the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos has helped build areas of downtown Grand Rapids as a member of Grand Action Committee. He and Betsy also made a generous contribution to the Kennedy Center’s Institute for Arts Management which was subsequently renamed to the Dick and Betsy DeVos Arts Management Institute. Dick also ran for governor in the 2006 Michigan gubernatorial race but fell just short to Jennifer Granholm. He continued to be active in politics and helped get a right-to-work law passed just 6 years later. He also authored the book Rediscovering American Values.