It’s a well-known fact that Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have opened up their vaults to give their money to local charities and non-profits, but just how much in any given year let alone their lifetime has remained a mystery over the years. But now they’ve taken an unprecedented step to make known just how much they’ve given, perhaps in an effort to add transparency to Betsy DeVos’s nomination to President Trump’s cabinet. Most of their charity work has involved gifts to local law enforcement and emergency responders, schools, churches, business coalitions, museums, libraries and political activist groups. All in all, the numbers they’ve released on their philanthropy add up to about $139 million in lifetime giving.
Dick DeVos has been able to be active in philanthropy thanks to the success he’s had in his family business and his own company, The Windquest Group. Dick has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwood University where he also sits on the Board of Trustees today. He started out as a vice president at Amway Corporation, the company that his father Richard DeVos Sr. founded back in 1957. He became CEO of Amway in 1993 and led the company for 10 years, helping to generate billions in profits over those years. At The Windquest Group he invests in alternative energy, technology and local retail businesses.
Dick and Betsy have been longtime political activists going all the way back to their college days and speaking their values on campuses. In 1992 they started the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which has been their leading point for funding education reform and private schools. They’ve helped lower income children attend private schools through scholarship programs, and have also helped expand charter schools in the state. They were instrumental in founding the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter school that teaches young people basics in aviation and mechanics in addition to the general curriculum.
Dick DeVos has been responsible for residential and commercial development projects in Grand Rapids over the years thanks to his work at Grand Action. Grand Action helped fund construction of an arena, local theaters, museums and other downtown areas of Grand Rapids. Dick and Betsy have supported and been active in the Republican Party for many years, including when Betsy was chair of the party about 10 years ago. Dick also ran in the 2006 governor’s race though he came up short in that election. He also was the leader of a right-to-work coalition that helped get legislation passed in 2012.