Dick DeVos is a businessman, former political candidate and husband of the current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. He’s made most of his money from his work investing in Michigan-based manufacturing, retail and restaurant companies as well as venture capital firms, and prior to that earned high compensation as CEO of Amway Corporation. But a high percentage of his compensation has been given to volunteer organizations and local services including healthcare and education. While it’s been previously known that his yearly donations have totaled in the millions, it wasn’t known until this last month that he and Betsy have given away around $139 million over the course of their lives. The DeVos Family, including Dick’s father Richard Devos Sr., mother Helen DeVos and siblings Dan, Douglas and Cheri DeVos are estimated to have given over $1.2 billion in total charities.
Dick DeVos really began his business career as a young man watching how his father ran the company and seeing how different clients conducted business through multilevel marketing. When he got older he completed a bachelor’s in business and economics at Northwood University and then ran different management facets of Amway. When he became vice president he started exploring the foreign markets and building new customer bases in several countries. For a brief period he left Amway and during that time he and his wife Betsy started The Windquest Group, he ran and won election to the Board of Education and also became president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic not long after his father bought the team’s shares. He returned to Amway to become CEO and grew the company income from overseas sales even higher during that time. He ran Amway for 10 years before retiring to solely run The Windquest Group.
Dick DeVos helped start Grand Vision, a board of business leaders and organizers that later became Grand Action Committee. During his time at this committee Grand Rapids has seen a lot of development including commercial zones, sports arenas, theaters and hospitals. He and Betsy also started the Education Freedom Fund and joined Children’s Scholarship Fund to help make private schools more affordable for students in low income families. They later started the Great Lakes Education Project and formed charter school alliances, and then started and funded a charter school of their own, the West Michigan Aviation Academy which has opened its doors to all and has curriculum based in aviation, engineering, mechanics and robotics as well as other sciences and general studies.
Dick DeVos’s political career has been ongoing since his father’s days of campaigning with former President Gerald Ford. He and Betsy have worked closely with Heritage Foundation and held positions in the Michigan Republican Party. He ran for governor at one time in 2006 but came up short against incumbent Jennifer Granholm. He started supporting legislators who favored right-to-work legislation, and in 2012 with funding from the Michigan Freedom Fund he and Betsy were able to get a right-to-work law passed. In his spare time, Dick has also sailed in the Chicago-Mackinac race.