Dick DeVos was introduced to the corporate world early in life by his own entrepreneurial parents. He participated in the family business as many other children do when growing up in that atmosphere. Of course, his experience did not include the typical family enterprise. His father was the founder of the ultimate multi-level marketing company, Amway. In 1974, he began his official career with Amway working in various positions throughout the corporation until becoming Vice President in 1986.
DeVos left the company for several years to complete a stint as the President and CEO of the Orlando Magic basketball franchise. DeVos returned in 1993 as President of Amway and facilitated changes that led to a restructuring of the company as it transformed into its new parent company, Alticor. He retired as President of Alticor in 2002 and went on to found a privately held investment management firm as well as focus his time and energy on philanthropy and political activism.
DeVos’ philanthropic pursuits are not an afterthought. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, co-founded with wife Betsy, has contributed more than $139 million to charitable causes. These contributions have received much more public attention since Betsy DeVos officially became the U.S. Education Secretary in 2017. Her dedication to education should make it no surprise that so much of their charitable contributions are aimed towards aiding educational opportunities. Over $3 million in 2015 alone was earmarked for education.This was a stunning 26 percent of their overall donations. The foundation was also responsible for creating an aviation charter school that was the first of its kind in the nation.
Recipients of their funds include Grand Rapids organizations like the Compass College of Cinematic Arts and Ferris State University. A New Mexico-based Christian school and the Christ-centered urban school, The Potter House in Wyoming, Michigan have also received substantial funding from the foundation. The couple also uses their foundation to support Willow Creek, a popular church located in the Chicago area. They provided $1 million to fund a global leadership summit at the facility that encourages business and church leaders from around the world to gather and discuss common concerns.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation is meant to be a charitable group that will outlast their lifetimes. Dick intentionally named the foundation as a family charity because he strives to keep his children actively engaged in the philanthropic field. His goal is to eventually have his children take on the responsibilities of the foundation in the same way he followed his own father’s lead with Amway.