It’s hard to track down just how extensive businessman Dick DeVos‘s philanthropy is with how far and wide he and his wife Betsy spread their contributions, but the mystery number of their lifetime giving has now been made known. Betsy was chosen by President Donald Trump to be the next Secretary of Education, and as part of the confirmation process the DeVos’s released their financial statements. It was found that their lifetime giving sits around $139 million though there are still many funds that are unaccounted for. This high number is not a surprise given how important certain causes including education have been to Dick and Betsy.
Dick DeVos is from the affluent DeVos family who are based in Grand Rapids, MI. His father Richard DeVos Sr. started one of the longest running multilevel marketing companies that operates on a similar business model to companies like Avon and Mary Kay. That company is Amway Corporation where Dick served as a vice president after finishing his bachelor’s degree at Northwood University. Dick’s primary focus while working at Amway was to tap into overseas sales, and by his 6th year as vice president company sales overseas accounted for 50% of revenue.
Dick left Amway in 1989 and started his own company, The Windquest Group where he would later devote all his work to. But he returned to Amway in 1993 to become CEO during which time he opened many new offices in the Asia Pacific region and started a parent company, Alticor. Dick was also president of the Orlando Magic for a couple years when his father bought the team in 1991.
In their educational philanthropy, Dick and Betsy have been working with private schools to fund operations and provide the means for poorer families to send their children. They started the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation in 1992 and not long after began the Education Freedom Fund and Kids First USA. Their activities eventually led them to form charter school groups including the Great Lakes Education Project. In 2010 they opened a unique charter school that taught students flying lessons and advanced technology courses known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick and Betsy have given to several churches including Willow Creek and Mars Hill Bible Church. They also joined David Rubenstein and several other donors to fund the completion of the Kennedy Center’s Institute of Arts Management which was promptly renamed in the DeVos’s name after a $22 million contribution. Dick DeVos also ran for governor in 2006, but when that effort fell short he joined the Mackinac Public Policy Center and Heritage Foundation in the fight for right-to-work legislation. He also is the author of the 1998 bestseller “Rediscovering American Values.”