Dick DeVos, a Man of Business and Giving

To date, Dick and Betsy DeVos have collectively given almost $139 million to charitable causes. This was made public knowledge after Betsy DeVos financials were scrutinized prior to her confirmation as U.S. Education Secretary. The vast majority of these donations have been funneled through their foundation. The two are just one branch of a dynasty that has been highly involved with Republican politics and charitable causes for decades. In 2015 alone, the entire DeVos family donated $104 million to such causes.

 

Betsy DeVos was not unfamiliar with living in a rich giving family when she married into the dynasty. She is the daughter of deceased industrialist Edgar Prince who was also part of a dynasty know for immense political and charitable giving. She has been with the DeVos family as its giving has been astounding. To date, the entire DeVos clan has given around $1.2 billion. Dick and Betsy have focused the clear majority of their attentions on education.

 

Dick DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 21, 1955, the son of Richard DeVos, the co-founder of Amway. He and his brothers had been sort of involved in the family business since boyhood. However, he didn’t officially join the Amway Corporation until later. After high school, he earned a B.A. in business administration from Northwood University. Then he officially joined the Amway team in 1974.

 

He quickly ascended through the ranks. In 1984, he became one of its vice presidents. He did so well in this position that within six years sales outside of the U.S. went from 5% to 45% of all sales. He did this by successfully opening up many markets in previously unused sectors. In 1991 the DeVos clan purchased the Orlando Magic and made Dick its president and CEO. There was some skepticism concerning whether or not he could successfully manage Magic since he had never led a sport’s before. He proved these skeptics false. After two great years in this position he left it to return to Amway as its new president. In 2006, he ran for governor of Michigan. Although it was a close race, he lost. But that did not end his desire to develop the city.

In 2008 he and his wife founded the Dick & Betsy DeVos Scholarship to help graduate students at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. In 2010, he and Betsy donated $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center Institute of Arts Management. The enormous gift was so appreciated that they renamed the place the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center. The Center works to develop arts professionals from all around the world. Part of this huge donation was used to help different arts groups in Michigan. By 2012, he was wealthy enough to be listed by Forbes magazine as the 67th richest person in the U.S. Today Western Michigan considers him one of their greatest benefactors.