Dick DeVos: Talented Businessman And Generous Philanthropist

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has raised much more than their original fundraising campaign goal of $125 million needed for their planned expansion project. They have now created a new goal of an additional $50 million, making the new goal $175 million. So far they have raised $135.9 million to pay for the planned riverfront pavilion, a pedestrian bridge that links the pavilion to the main body of the center, as well as adding a large expansion to the center itself. That expansion will include three new pavilions, educational spaces, rehearsal spaces, dining space and offices. The expansion should be completed in 2018. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation donate $1 million to the project.


The son of Richard DeVos co-founder of Amway and the husband of newly appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Dick DeVos has long been a generous philanthropist. His family foundation has given over $140 million to a variety of artistic, civic, community, educational, political and religious organizations. DeVos has supported the Grand Rapids based art competition, ArtPrize, since 2009. In 2010 Dick and Betsy DeVos gave the Kennedy Center Institute of Arts Management $22.5 million.


A Grand Rapids, Michigan, native, Dick DeVos was involved with Amway ever since he was a child. A product of the Forest Hill public schools, he then went on to graduate from Northwood University with a BA in business administration. DeVos also attended, Executive Study Programs at the Wharton School and Harvard Business School. In 1974, Dick DeVos officially started working with the Amway Corporation. He held a variety of positions in the manufacturing, research and development, sales, marketing and finance divisions.


Dick DeVos became an Amway vice president in 1984. He was head of Amway operations in 18 countries. Under his leadership, Amway entered many new markets and for the first time ever foreign sales grew to eclipse domestic sales. When Dick DeVos took over foreign sales it only represented 5% of total Amway sales. When he left 6 years later it was 50% of Amway’s annual sales. In 1991, DeVos left Amway to help his father run the NBA basketball franchise the Orlando Magic, which the elder DeVos had purchased. Two years later, DeVos returned to Amway and became its president. He then expanded the company’s operations to over 50 countries on six continents with $4.5 billion in sales before retiring in 2002.


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