Dick DeVos is an entrepreneur, former political candidate, activist, and father who has given much of his time to build a better community in Grand Rapids. His wife Betsy has spent her life fighting for grassroots political causes and education reform, at one time serving as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Together, they started the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, an organization whose mission is make a difference in the local education, healthcare, arts, and environmental industries. According to Philanthropy Roundtable, Betsy attributes much of her and Dick’s work to their having raised children in good private schools, and wanting lower income families to have the same opportunities. She went on to cite states like Florida as being examples of what grassroots education can look like when it’s given the chance to succeed.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation was established back in 1993, but even before then Dick DeVos was hard at work laying the foundation for his career. He started at Amway Corporation, a company started by his father Rich DeVos that became a highly successful direct selling giant. He specialized in various managerial roles for about 10 years, until he became an executive vice president. He became CEO in 1993, during which time he helped Amway gain traction in many foreign markets, and grew their profits in the billions by the time he stepped down. He left Amway in 2002, and started up the Windquest Group with his wife Betsy.
While running the Windquest Group, the DeVos’s have become active in many non-profit groups, and most of them are dedicated to education and politically conservative think tanks. The DeVos’s have both funded and helped start up private and charter schools in Grand Rapids, including Potters House and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. They have also given to local museums and children’s hospitals, and won honors such as Spectrum Health’s Art of Giving Award.
Dick DeVos has helped donate to many Republican political candidates and has close ties to former President Gerald Ford’s family. At one time he jumped into the Michigan Governor’s race in 2006, hoping to beat incumbent Jennifer Granholm. He was not able to do so, but he continued the dedication to conservative principles and efforts to get conservative laws passed in Michigan. In 2012, he succeeded in getting right-to-work legislation passed. He’s also supported conservative organizations such as Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute.