When it comes to philanthropy, the conservative DeVoses are definitely high up on the pedestal. The affluent American family’s giving is extensive that it can be quite hard to understand how and why they’re giving away millions.
How the DeVos family acquired their wealth is quite controversial. Dick’s father, the late Richard DeVos Sr., co-founded Amway, the multi-level company that sells beauty, health, and home care products. The company has been bombarded with criticism over the years, as not all sales methods actually work for everybody who joins the company. But things turned out well for Richard DeVos Sr., who at the time of his death had a net worth of $5 billion.
Having that much wealth, it’s just natural for the family to contribute to charity. Richard and his wife, Helen, founded the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. The organization has touched the lives of many people including their son Dick DeVos, who proceeded to follow the footsteps of his powerful parents.
Dick’s wife, Betsy Prince DeVos, currently serves as the country’s secretary of education, and together, they founded their own charitable foundation in the late 1980s, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation.
The couple’s foundation primarily focuses on school choice, but its areas of interests also include arts, community health, and neighborhood improvements. It has awarded grants to several institutions such as the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter school in Grand Rapids that focuses on aviation; and the Potter’s House, a Christian organization in Michigan. But the recipient of the foundation’s largest contribution goes to the Education Freedom Fund, a non-profit organization that offers private school scholarships to needy students.
Apart from their contributions to the education sector, the foundation has awarded grants to politically conservative organizations in Michigan and neighboring states. Among these is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Traditional Values Coalition, Acton Institute, Council for National Policy, and the Heritage Foundations. So are the Federalist Society and the American Enterprise Institute.
When asked why his family supports humanitarian organizations, Dick said it’s because “helping the poor and disadvantaged is a driving principle of their world-view and it’s reflected in the history of their foundation.”
Dick DeVos was CEO of the NBA team his father bought in 1991, the Orlando Magic. He tried his luck in politics when he ran for governor of Michigan in 2006. He unfortunately lost, but his community work is still existent to this day. He now runs The Windquest Group, an investment management firm that operates in Grand Rapids.
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