Dick DeVos has been known to be one of America’s most generous individuals with his gifts to various humanitarian and social activist groups. His family, headed by billionaire Richard DeVos Sr. is one of Michigan’s wealthiest business families, but they’ve also topped one of America’s most generous lists with givings of over $1.2 billion in totals. Dick DeVos recently announced that he and his wife Betsy had given $139 million in their total lifetime philanthropy, a number he had often been pressed on but wouldn’t previously divulge. His decision to release this number came right before Betsy came to Washington D.C. to be confirmed as the US Secretary of Education. He did say that that was not the only reason he chose to do it.
The groups that Dick DeVos’s $139 million has gone to vary, but a part of it has gone towards private K through 12 education as well as several universities and institutes. It was in 1990 that Dick DeVos first began his endeavor to help private schools by winning election to the Michigan Board of Education. Two years later it was the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation that began setting up scholarship programs in partnership with the Children’s Scholarship Fund to help both the schools and families in need. In 2010 Dick DeVos formed a group of educators that became part of the administration at the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter school that opened at the Gerald Ford Airport in Grand Rapids.
Dick DeVos was the leading founder and donor of Grand Action, a group of business leaders working with city council members to bring in commerce and entertainment to downtown Grand Rapids. He also gave hospitals associated with Spectrum Health Systems a gift in 2006 and was awarded the Spectrum Health Art of Giving. In 2012 he and Betsy gave $22 million to complete the Institute for Arts Management Project at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Dick DeVos was taught about business and philanthropy by his parents, Richard and Helen DeVos. His father had co-founded Amway Corporation, the company that Dick spent much of his business career with. Dick was a vice president at Amway for about 6 years, then left the company for a few years and founded The Windquest Group. He returned to Amway to become CEO when his father retired and ran the company for 10 years. His company The Windquest Group invests in startup companies and technology developers based in Michigan.