The DeVos family is one of Michigan’s wealthiest families, but also one of their most generous and their charity work has helped non-profit groups and private schools across the state. Betsy DeVos, the wife of Dick DeVos explained to Philanthropy Roundtable why much of their foundation’s work has been dedicated to education. She explains how school of choice is such an important thing for families who aspire for their children to receive better quality education than what most public schools offer. She also cited examples of how education reform laws have helped state education overall do better in places like Florida and Louisiana. Education is just one of Dick and Betsy’s passions.
Dick DeVos grew up in a business-minded household, the son of Richard DeVos who co-founded Amway, one of the largest direct selling corporations in the US. Dick graduated with a bachelor’s in business, and later an MBA from Northwood University, and he spent most of his early career working at Amway. After his father retired, he took over as CEO and during his time running the company many new offices were opened in the Asian markets, and his final year saw profits generated in excess of $4 billion.
Today Dick and his wife Betsy run The Windquest Group, an investment firm with holdings in the technology, energy, and retail industries. But a great deal of their work has been done with the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Through this foundation they have sponsored many conservative think tanks and reform groups such as the Education Freedom Fund, Mars Hill Bible Church, Hudson Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Willow Creek Association. Dick also has served as chair on the Grand Action Committee, a group that’s overseen building projects designed to revitalize downtown Grand Rapids such as building sports arenas, theaters, museums, and other large centers.
Both Dick and Betsy have been longtime activists in the Republican party, including contributing to former President Gerald R. Ford’s campaign, serving as chair of the state Republican party, and even running for office. Dick won election to the state board of education in 1990, and in 2006 tried to defeat incumbent Jennifer Granholm in the gubernatorial race, but just lost by a close margin. He also authored a New York Times bestselling book titled Rediscovering American Values, explaining how free market economics, good morals, and generosity helped make America prosperous and great.