The DeVos family might be thought of largely as a politically-driven family with ambitions to change America’s education into something different than what exists now, and perhaps that’s due to Betsy being promoted to Secretary of Education. But Dick DeVos, Betsy’s husband and former gubernatorial candidate has been a part of so much more. Dick has been an investor in Michigan startups and energy companies since the late 1980s when he founded The Windquest Group. But he’s also been a member and supporter of Heritage Foundation, several pro-life groups, Spectrum Health, and several major university business schools. The report that he and Betsy issued last January indicated they had given over $139 million benefiting these organizations.
Elementary schools, high schools and universities are where the DeVos’s have sent over 25% of their charity, and they’ve also helped start other initiatives related to education. It started with small private schools such as Potter’s House, and soon grew to supporting charter schools and several public schools. Much of the funding for these schools started with scholarships and grants, but in 2000 the DeVos’s also brought an initiative to the ballot that was voted against to have vouchers and tax credits for private schools. The setback led to a bigger effort to expand charter schools, and over just the next few years they did just that. Eventually Dick DeVos opened a charter school he funds through The Windquest Group known as the West Michigan Aviation Academy.
Dick DeVos is also the head of Grand Action, an organization of Grand Rapids business leaders that have worked to build up downtown Grand Rapids. Thanks to Dick DeVos’s efforts, the city of Grand Rapids avoided the mistake of moving an arena to the suburbs. Dick DeVos also supports ArtPrize, an art competition based in Michigan that brings in many talents. Dick is also on the boards of Willow Creek Association, Action Institute, Spectrum Health, Thunderbird School of Global Management and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Dick DeVos was born in 1955 and started out his career managing departments for his father’s company, Amway Corporation. His father is the famous Richard DeVos Sr. who became a major multilevel marketing pioneer and the eventual owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Dick DeVos became the company’s vice president in the 1980s, left for a short time and then returned to become CEO in 1993. Dick held the position as CEO until 2002. He founded The Windquest Group back in 1989 and made it his primary business once he had stepped down from Amway. His two main political spotlights were 1990 and becoming elected to the Michigan State Board of Education, and his 2006 attempt to become governor which fell short. He is the primary leader behind the 2012 right-to-work law passed in Michigan, and the author of “Rediscovering American Values.”