August 4

Dick DeVos Leading the Way in Philanthropic Giving

Although Dick DeVos’ name is synonymous with the Amway empire co-founded by his father Rich, not enough attention has been given to his charitable contributions. The amount is staggering In comparison to political contributions, with $11.6 million dollars given out in 2015 alone- More than double the 5.3 million over the past five years as reported by Betsy DeVos reported to the federal government as part of the vetting process for her position as Secretary of the Department of Education.


The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation have given back to the community nearly $139 million dollars over their lifetimes. However, giving is an even larger part of the Amway family Dynasty, with DeVos’ father and four grown children contributing a total of $104 million dollars in charity donations in 2015. According to Forbes Magazine data, the family has given $1.33 billion, or roughly one quarter of their $5.2 billion dollar fortune.


Among the philanthropic endeavors for Dick and Betsy, it’s evident that education is a top priority. In 2015 alone, more than $3 million was earmarked for educational causes, which made roughly 26 percent of their total charitable donations for the year. Additionally, their foundation awarded 3 percent or $357,000 for educational reform.


When asked about educational priorities, DeVos said that it became became clear to he and his wife over time that the current system was not fulfilling the American dream. In other words, he believes the issue is increasingly a civil rights problem. During an interview with MLive and The Grand Rapids Press, Devos also stated that kids growing up in the wrong zip code can have a difficult time reaching the American Dream, and education is a necessary part to achieving that dream.


Although critics argue that school vouchers and Charter Schools take tax dollars away from public schools, DeVos believes choice addresses the failings of a one size fits all program inherent within the public school curriculum. DeVos truly believes there are many great teachers and administrators doing wonderful work, but a better job can be done at helping talented educators to be even more effective in reaching out to every child.


A specific breakdown of philanthropic education contributions for 2015 is currently unavailable. However, according to the Foundation’s tax records in 2013 include several Major beneficiaries. Among those are the West Michigan Aviation Academy ($315,000), Ferris State University in Big Rapids ($100,000), Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning ($25,000), Potter’s House in Wyoming ($301,000). Rehoboth Christian School New Mexico ($50,000), and Dick DeVos’ alma mater Northwood University in Midland ($200,000).


Apparently, it’s not the wealth accumulated but how much is given away, according to Dick DeVos and his family. They show it in actions instead of rhetoric, and lead the way in philanthropy.


November 30

Career Choices Show The Success Of Dick DeVos

The career of Dick DeVos is one I have watched with interest for a number of years as he has navigated his way successfully through some of the most impressive areas of the modern business world. I have known a little about Dick DeVos for a number of years after I first became aware of his work as an education reformer bringing school choice to Florida; however, Dick was already a successful businessman by the time he came to my attention for his work in education. Looking back over the career of Dick DeVos allows me the chance to develop a better understanding of what drives this Grand Rapids, Michigan native to continue his business and philanthropic career after retiring as President of the globally known AmWay Group.


Dick DeVos joined the AmWay organization established by his father in the 1970s, but only made his way to executive level after spending a decade exploring the many different areas of the company. DeVos made his own name as a business person when he was placed in charge of the international division of AmWay and turned it from creating just five percent of company revenue to over 50 percent in six short years; I found these figures impressive and understood why Dick was given the job of taking over the running of the Orlando Magic NBA franchise in 1991, before making his way back to AmWay in 1993 to take over as President of the family business. Looking back at the career of Dick DeVos allowed me the chance to see how his restructuring of AmWay led to the continued success of the company entering the 21st century. In recent times, Dick and his wife, Betsy have worked together finding interesting investments for their own company, called The Windquest Group.

I have been shocked at the level of work and commitment Dick DeVos, and his wife Betsy have put into their continued work as education reformers; the education reform work they have completed began in their home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan and has now taken them across the country bringing school choice and voucher programs to 17 different states in a program I ca only describe as more than impressive.

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