The Philanthropy Of Dick And Betsy DeVos

Dick DeVos recently revealed how much he and his family have given to charitable causes over the years. During their lifetimes, and through their Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, they have given away almost $139 million. Just in 2015 the contributed $11.6 million to a variety of causes, mostly related to education and arts. When combined with the amount that the extended DeVos family has donated over the years it comes to $1.33 billion, which places them as 24th on the list of most charitable families in the United States, according to Forbes.

In 2015, $3 million of their donations went to educational causes. The reason why education is so important to Dick DeVos is because he recognizes that children who grow up in the wrong zip code will simply not get a good education. DeVos said that the educational institutions they support show a commitment to academic rigor, accountability, and sufficient adult support and supervision. Among the specific schools they support is the West Michigan Aviation Academy which turns out students that have the STEM skills necessary to succeed in the aviation industry. Dick DeVos was particularly proud that last year’s graduating class had 15 licensed pilots among them.

It was also revealed that they gave $2.4 million in donations for Arts & Culture in 2015. Part of this went to the DeVos Institute of Arts Management that is located at the University of Michigan. The institute was started as part of an initiative to strengthen the business side of arts institutions. The rest of their donations for the year were split up between civic community organizations, leadership and development programs, public policy, health and human services, and churches. One of the hallmarks that the couple is known for is that the money they donate comes without string attached on exactly how it is spent.

Dick DeVos is the son of Amway Corporation co-founder Richard DeVos, Sr. Dick began working at Amway in 1974 and slowly built his way up to positions of more responsibility. In 1984 he was promoted to Vice President where he oversaw the company’s international markets. During the time he served as Vice President, Amway explored new markets and tripled foreign sales. In 1989 he left Amway in order to found his own company, The Windquest Group. At this company he was involved manufacturing and selling closet and storage organizers.

In 1991 his father bought The Orlando Magic NBA team, and Dick was tapped by his dad to manage it. He continued to manage The Windquest Group during this time, and also after he rejoined Amway in 1993 as the company’s President. He continued to build up Amway’s business until he left the company in 2002.