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.