Dick DeVos has come out in the open about what he and his wife Betsy have been doing with their money recently. Some have mistakenly believed the DeVos’s philanthropy motivations to be politically-driven, yet when you really get to know this entrepreneur and his wife you find a man who believes in the power of private education and how it can be a tremendous step for young children. But Dick DeVos has gone far beyond the classroom and business to help people in the Grand Rapids, MI community. He’s also sponsored youth competitions, given to hospitals, churches, food banks, and urban housing and development groups. His wife Betsy was chosen to head the US Education Department and just prior to the confirmation hearings Dick DeVos made it known he and Betsy had given $139 million in their lifetimes.
Dick DeVos grew up in Grand Rapids and saw his father, Richard DeVos Sr. show generosity to neighbors in need and start different charity groups. Richard DeVos Sr. is famous for founding Amway Corporation, a company that uses direct selling to market household products to various customers and his family has all held executive positions at the company at one time or another. Dick learned from his father just how important it was to give back to the community, and as a father himself he’s seen his children become excited about giving.
Dick DeVos worked for Amway Corporation for over 20 years including serving as CEO from 1993 to 2002. When his father bought the controlling stakes in the NBA’s Orlando Magic in 1991, Dick also served as president for the NBA team. Not long before that he and Betsy cofounded The Windquest Group where they spend most of their time in business today. The Windquest Group started out as an endeavor to bring alternative energy and technology disruptors into the mainstream, and notable Michigan companies in its portfolio include ElectraTherm, LexTM3 and Huron Ventures. They also own shares in local retailers including The Stowe Company and Reserve Wine and Food.
Dick and Betsy DeVos first became serious about changing education in Michigan around 1990 when Dick ran for and won election to the Board of Education. But they decided to take it further by starting scholarships for both families and private schools under the DeVos Foundation including the Education Freedom Fund and Kids First America. At one point they took the issue of tax credits and school vouchers before the Michigan voters in the 2000 election when they hoped an initiative on the ballot would change the current regulations, but the voters voted against the amendment. Later on Dick and Betsy started a charter school group and later helped the West Michigan Aviation Academy open at the Gerald Ford Airport.