Entrepreneur Dick DeVos, worth an estimated $5.6 billion, has given away a fortune during his adult life. He, along with his wife Betsy, established the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which has provided funding to nonprofits engaged in both the state of Michigan as well as nationally. While it’s been known for years he was generous with his money how much he has given away wasn’t really known until he recently revealed this number during a recent interview.
Adding up what Dick and Betsy have given over the years comes to about $140 million. While they give to a variety of causes, education and the arts are the primary areas they focus on. In just 2015 they gave $11.6 million to educational causes, primarily those that support charter schools. Dick has said that the main problem with public schools is that the quality of education they provide is almost entirely based on the zip code the school is in. Schools that are in poor communities are almost universally failing to educate children which is incredibly unfair. He sees charter schools, which are run by private organizations, as the answer to public schools. He thinks parents will be able to afford to send their children to charter schools through educational reforms such as vouchers and tax credits.
In the world of arts and culture, Dick DeVos donated $2.4 million in just 2015. Some of this money went to the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. This institute, located at the University of Maryland, graduates students who are ready to be business leaders at art institutions. They develop the knowledge and skills they need to effectively manage an arts organization and make sure it is sustainably operated.
Dick DeVos is the son of Richard DeVos, one of the founders of Amway. Dick joined this company himself in 1974. In 1984 he was tapped as a Vice President where he was tasked with increasing the international business of the company. After his success at this endeavor, Amway went from international sales making up just 5% of the company’s sells to this number is over half of all sales.
Along with his wife Betsy, Dick Co-founded The Windquest Group in 1989. This company, which is still privately held, invests mostly in companies that are in manufacturing and technology. He invests in companies that create alternative energy that is sustainable. This includes not only environmentally sustainable but also economically as well. He says he won’t invest in a company that has built its model on subsidies are tax incentives because once those go away, as they inevitably do, their business model won’t work and the company will collapse.