Dick and Betsy DeVos, through their Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, have given away an incredible $139 million in their lifetimes. Just in 2015 the couple gave $11.6 million away, mostly to educational nonprofits. The extended DeVos family was recently ranked #24th by Forbes on their “America’s Top Givers” list, and has given away about $1.33 billion of its roughly $5.2 billion estate.
Dick DeVos has commented that they give educational causes priority, and education accounted for about 1/4 of their 2015 donations. He believes that the current education system does not provide students with the means to obtain the American Dream, especially for kids who happen to grow up in the wrong zip code. He looks to change this through the education nonprofits that his foundation supports. He supports school choice and providing an improved system to support excellent teachers working to reach every child. The primary beneficiary of their donations are in Michigan but DeVos does support national organizations as well.
DeVos has stated that the institutions they support are held accountable, feature a program of academic rigor, supports the teachers and administrators, and provides ample supervision of the students. Some of the schools they support are Potter’s House, Grand Rapids Christian Schools, and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. This academy trains high school students to enter the aviation industry, including having now graduated 15 licensed pilots. About one-third of the students are impoverished, 40% are minorities, and the graduation rate is 86%.
The next focus of DeVos is on Arts & Culture, to which they gave about 20% of their donations to in 2015. The donations were given to organizations like the DeVos Institute for Arts Management. The foundation has also provided money to nonprofits such as churches, as well as into fields in Public Policy, Health & Human Services, and other civic or community based organizations.
Dick Devos started his career with Amway. He held several positions at the company and eventually was promoted to being a Vice President there. When he took over the development of foreign markets at Amway only 5% of their sales were outside the United States; within six years of his leadership that had grown to account for 50% of Amway’s sales. DeVos is also an owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team, and co-founded The Windquest Group with his wife, Betsy. The Windquest Group is a private financial investment company based on Grand Rapids, Michigan. The main fields that they invest in are technology, industrialism, and clean energy. One of their investments is the Green Machine, which captures the heat given off during the manufacturing process and turns it into electricity.