When Dick and Betsy DeVos started their family foundation over 24 years ago they saw it as a way to help organizations in education, arts, scientific research and political activism impact the state of Michigan. Dick’s family has been supporting conservative institutions since the days his father made Amway Corporation successful, and the DeVos family has built several foundations that have started higher learning centers at local universities and also supported Republican political candidates. But Dick and Betsy’s total giving has only a small fraction that’s gone to political candidates even though Betsy herself was once chairperson of the Michigan Republican Party. The exact amount the DeVos’s have given to local charities is estimated to be about $139 million.
Dick DeVos runs The Windquest Group and also is the former CEO of Amway Corporation. While working under his father and later leading Amway, Dick was responsible for growing its customer base into markets in Western Europe, Australia and Eastern Asia. Only a small part of Amway’s profits came from outside the US before Dick took over, but once he started running the company it grew to over 50%. After leaving Amway Dick and Betsy decided to start investing in more Michigan-based companies that specialized in food service, energy and power generators, household storage and specialized technology. Phil Dolci was recently chosen to become CEO of one of their companies. Dick was also the president of the Orlando Magic in the few years following his family’s purchase of the team.
Dick and Betsy consider education to be at the forefront of their values, hence why then President-elect Donald Trump chose Betsy to head the US Department of Education by the time he took office. One of Dick and Betsy’s first efforts to change it was when Dick won election to the state Board of Education in 1990, but despite being able to influence policies towards private schools, the DeVos’s thought more should be done. About 10 years later they attempted to bring a bill into law that would allow private schools to receive tax credits and vouchers, but it missed the needed votes. But in spite of that setback the DeVos’s also started working with charter schools, and in 2010 they formed one at the local airport that’s known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
The DeVos’s have also given to local hospitals and in 2006 Dick was given the Spectrum Health Foundation’s Art of Giving award. David Rubenstein’s project at the Kennedy Center also was the beneficiary of the DeVos’s charity and was then renamed the Dick and Betsy DeVos Institute for Arts Management. Dick DeVos is also an active member and supporter of Heritage Foundation, and he also wrote a book about his philosophies titled Rediscovering American Values.