Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have been highly involved in politics and activism over their careers and thanks to their outstanding track record in education reform, Betsy DeVos was chosen to be the 11th US Secretary of Education. Dick DeVos and his wife have certainly been compensated well in business both while Dick was CEO of Amway Corporation, and after he retired to become a private investor through The Windquest Group. Betsy was the Michigan Republican Party chairperson both in 1996-2000, and then again in 2004. Dick ran for governor in the 2006 race which he lost to Jennifer Granholm. The DeVos’s have influenced Grand Rapids through their charity work which at the confirmation hearings was revealed to be $139 million in total lifetime giving, though even that number did not include some unaccounted for funds.
While their giving did not start with the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which was started in 1992, the foundation did become a cornerstone for many other non-profits they helped establish. Education became their first goal because Dick DeVos saw how important quality education was for young people, and he and Betsy wanted to give low income families a chance to have the same opportunities their own children had. Their first education philanthropy came through scholarship programs at Education Freedom Fund and Children First America which partnered with the Children’s Scholarship to make the endeavor happen. In 2003 they established a charter school support group known as the Great Lakes Education Projects, and in 2010 they began the West Michigan Aviation Academy to provide an advanced curriculum for students.
Dick DeVos also has funded civic organizations in Grand Rapids including Grand Action, originally known as Grand Vision. This organization works with city leaders to bring in new entertainment, arts, libraries, museums and commercial developments to downtown Grand Rapids. His art funding also includes ArtPrize, a competition that encourages young people to create painted, sculpted and other ingenious works of art. He’s also given to children’s hospitals and health facilities and was given the Spectrum Health Foundation’s Art of Giving award.
Dick DeVos is Richard DeVos Sr.’s son and the brother of Daniel, Douglas and Cheri DeVos. The DeVos family is very close to former President Gerald Ford’s family and currently owns most of the shares of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Richard DeVos Sr. cofounded Amway Corporation in 1957, and Dick learned from him a lot of ethics and guidelines in managing a business. Dick graduated from Northwood University and began working in his family’s company in 1974 at age 19. At age 29 he was promoted to Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He left the company at age 34 and started The Windquest Group along with his wife Betsy during this time. He returned to the company in 1993 and became CEO, expanding Amway into 50 new countries and generating sales of over $4 billion in his last year alone. He retired in 2002 and focused on The Windquest Group’s investments and his non-profit work.