Dick DeVos has had so many important organizations he’s been involved with over his career from elementary to postsecondary education, urban development, scientific research, history and politically conservative activists. He’s a business executive who was CEO of Amway Corporation from 1993 to 2002 and currently is Chairman of The Windquest Group. His wife Betsy was chosen to be US Secretary of Education and in response to questions posed at the confirmation hearing, Dick and Betsy revealed their lifetime philanthropy amounts totaled about $139 million. The DeVos family as a whole has given over $1 billion in their lifetimes and only a small portion has gone to political campaigns. The causes they have contributed to have made a big impact in Grand Rapids, MI.
Dick DeVos’s main starting point in philanthropy has been education both private and public. He and his wife Betsy have understood how important the value of quality education provided by private schools is and they’ve endeavored to allow young children from lower income families to attend these schools. It started with scholarships provided through the Children’s Scholarship Fund that they matched funding through Children First America and Education Freedom Fund. Schools that benefited from this funding included Potter’s House and Grand Rapids Christian Academy.
Dick DeVos also is a patron of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University which trains young people to become business executives. He formed Grand Action Committee to explore ways to transform downtown Grand Rapids and bring in entertainment and arts. He is also involved with Hudson Institute, Action Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Heritage Foundation supporting conservative grassroots groups and laws. In 2006 he made a generous contribution to Spectrum Health and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital that made him the recipient of the Art of Giving award.
Dick DeVos saw generosity practiced by his parents Richard and Helen DeVos who were both business-minded but always gave back to the Grand Rapids community. Their business is Amway Corporation, a multilevel marketing corporation that’s given people opportunities to start their own businesses with low operating costs and overhead. Dick was a vice president at Amway from 1984 to 1989, then after leaving the company briefly he became CEO. He also founded The Windquest Group which invests in alternative energy and high tech companies based in Michigan, and is also the holding company for Boxed Water and Coppercraft Spirits.
The DeVos’s political careers prior to Betsy becoming nominated for Secretary of Education include her stint as Michigan Republican Party chairperson, and Dick DeVos’s bid for governor. Dick lost that bid in a close contest to Jennifer Granholm, but he fought for other state reforms in the coming years. He was one of the key forces behind the 2012 right-to-work legislation.