Dick DeVos has been featured in several news primetime shows and business outlets and he found his way into the national spotlight again when his wife Betsy became the 11th US Secretary of Education. This time DeVos made headlines by revealing the answer to the question of just how much he’s given to philanthropy over the years. Just prior to Betsy’s confirmation hearings, Dick DeVos released a statement of $139 million that the couple had given to charity over their lifetimes. The $139 million has funded all kinds of non-profits ranging from politically conservative activists, healthcare initiatives, education and civic centers. Dick DeVos has also funded several groups through his company The Windquest Group.
Dick DeVos founded The Windquest Group in 1989 though he started taking it bigger after 2002 when he stepped down from Amway Corporation. The Windquest Group was founded as an investment company for alternative but powerful energy initiatives and is the holding company for Electratherm Energy. But it’s also the holding company for several other companies in home storage, restaurants and even now a brewery. Dick got his business training from working at Amway, a company his father Richard DeVos Sr. who owns the NBA’s Orlando Magic founded. DeVos learned the ins and outs of business management during his time at Amway. He was vice president there from 1984 to 1989 and then became CEO in 1993. But most importantly he’s brought his business skills to philanthropic leadership.
His first efforts to assist private schools began in 1990 as a member of the Michigan State Board of Education. Later after starting the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, he and Betsy began assisting families and private schools through scholarship funds generated through Education Freedom Fund, Children’s Scholarship Fund and Children First America. The DeVos’s later formed the Great Lakes Education Association which connected the state’s various charter schools, and then later opened an aviation-based charter school known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos has given to and sat on the board of Grand Rapids development groups including Grand Action formerly known as Grand Vision. This group has transformed downtown Grand Rapids through building arts and sports venues and bringing more commerce to needy areas. Dick DeVos also has funded several conservative agendas through Hudson Institute and Heritage Foundation. In 2006 he ran for governor against incumbent Jennifer Granholm but lost by 14 points. But in the years after this race he began prompting Michigan lawmakers to pursue a right-to-work bill, and in 2012 after following the example of Governor Walker in Wisconsin, Governor Rick Snyder signed the new bill into law in Michigan. Dick and Betsy are also two donors to the Kennedy Center‘s Institute of Art’s Management in Washington D.C.