Dick DeVos has held so many positions both in business and non-profit groups that he has become well-known as a political spokesperson and philanthropist. He and his wife Betsy DeVos have been the longtime chairs of the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation which has given a hefty sum of $139 million to all kinds of education and healthcare groups during its existence. Museums, art competitions, churches and aviation organizations such as the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan have also been the recipients of this funding. The $139 million Dick DeVos has given is only part of what his father Richard DeVos Sr., and siblings Daniel, Douglas and Cheri have given in over $1.2 billion lifetime giving.
Dick DeVos has looked up to his father, Richard DeVos Sr. all his life as a generous businessman and hero that he’s wanted to emulate. DeVos Sr. is the cofounder of Amway Corporation, one of the first direct selling companies to arrive in the business world which the DeVos family has run alongside the Van Andel family for many years. Dick and all his brothers have worked at this company. Dick was vice president during the 1980s, and in 1993 became CEO during which he grew the company beyond the borders his father had established while running it, and started seeing billions in revenue from sales made through Alticor, the new head company he had built through it. In 2002 he retired from Amway and pursued investing in energy and tech companies through his other company, The Windquest Group.
Dick DeVos ran for and won election to the Michigan State Board of Education in 1990, and about three years later started the Education Freedom Fund to bring in scholarships for private schools to needy families. It was during this time and he and Betsy began working with private funds for schools such as Potter’s House and Grand Rapids Christian Schools to match the operating and administrative costs to the facilities through their initiatives. They even tried to get a voucher and tax credit initiative passed on the 2000 election ballot but came up short. But they did succeed in starting their own charter school several years later.
Grand Rapids opened several large sports and arts venues thanks to Dick DeVos’s contributions through Grand Action Committee. They also had a new children’s hospital built through the Spectrum Health Foundation after a $12 million donation from the DeVos’s helped complete the facility. Dick tried to unseat Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2006 election but didn’t succeed. But 6 years later he and several other activists including Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute brought about a right-to-work law passage. He also wrote “Rediscovering American Values,” a 1998 New York Times bestseller.