Dick DeVos Runs Billion-Dollar Enterprises But Gives Back $139 Million Of His Own
Dick DeVos has so many business and non-profit organizations he’s been involved with that you could say his fingerprints have been all over Grand Rapids, MI. He primarily manages investments and subsidiary company decisions through his firm The Windquest Group, but he also has given through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation. His wife Betsy was nominated for US Secretary of Education recently and in accordance with applicable laws the DeVos’s disclosed their philanthropy amounts. The final estimated numbers that didn’t even delve into the political campaigns they’ve contributed to over the years totaled around $139 million in lifetime philanthropy.
As president and Chairman of The Windquest Group, Dick invests in and acquires companies primarily based in Michigan that specialize in clean energy, food service, venture capital funding, marketing technology and educational initiatives. Prior to making this company his primary career focus, Dick was an executive at Amway Corporation, one of the longest running direct selling companies in the world. This company was founded by Dick’s father Richard DeVos Sr. who also bought the NBA’s Orlando Magic in 1991. Dick managed some of the lower level operations of Amway prior to becoming vice president in 1984, and then after three years pursuing other interests Dick became CEO from 1993 to 2002. Amway became one of the largest international MLM and distribution companies during these years bringing in $4.5 billion in Dick’s last year running the company alone.
One of Dick and Betsy’s first agendas in their lifetime giving was education, a passion found when they saw needy families sacrificing to put their children in private schools. Determined to help these families out, the DeVos’s started the Education Freedom Fund and partnered with American Education Reform Council and Children First America to support scholarship programs. While there was some benefit to these scholarship programs, the DeVos’s wanted to do something even bigger by trying to start tax credits and vouchers for private schools but didn’t succeed. They did however continue contributing to universities and private schools, and eventually they started a charter school association and opened one of their own, the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos’s first political service was winning election to the State Board of Education in 1990, but he took it much further in 2006 when he ran for governor. He didn’t have the debate skills necessary to defeat incumbent Governor Jennifer Granholm, but he did continue to fight for small businesses and free market labor groups. His fight eventually led to the passing of the 2012 right-to-work law similar to that passed in Wisconsin just the previous year. As a free market supporter, Dick DeVos has been active at Heritage Foundation and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and he also wrote the book Rediscovering American Values.