A lot of tension and criticism came along with the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Her and her husband’s outsized political donations have put them in the spotlight, so they opened up about their money. Their political donations pale in comparison to their almost $139 million given in total charitable contributions. To show that the DeVos family has always been on the right side of giving, Dick DeVos unveiled the millions of dollars that has been filtered through their foundation and family. Dick and Betsy doled out $11.6 million in donations in 2015 alone. That number happens to be double the amount the couple has donated to political campaigns in five years.
The DeVos family has always been high-profile, with both Dick and Betsy coming from successful family dynasties. Dick’s father was the co-founder of Amway and each of the DeVos siblings donated a total of $104 million in one year. The family’s position as charitable contributors landed them on Forbes’ like of “America’s Top Givers.” This list was determined by data obtained, stating that the DeVos family has given a quarter of its entire fortune. Dick and his wife Betsy are focused mainly on educational causes, allotting 26 percent of their donations for 2015 to go to educational parties. Another three percent of that was donated to group that support education reform. Dick DeVos believes that their spending habits when it comes to charity truly reflect the priorities in their lives.
After seeing that the current system was not fulfilling many people’s hope of the American Dream, Dick and his wife paired up to do what they believe to be their part in helping people achieve the education necessary to reach that dream. He does not believe that one-size-fits-all public education is the answer and is an advocate of charter schools and vouchers. Some of the couple’s biggest beneficiaries in the past have been the West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids, Potter’s House in Wyoming, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, and the Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning.
Dick DeVos was heir to the Amway fortune. He began working for the family company after graduating from Northwood University. Dick became one of Amway’s vice presidents in 1984, growing the company to triple their foreign sales. Dick and his family also owned the Orlando Magic, his father dividing ownership between the DeVos siblings. He became Amway’s President in 1993, overseeing a giant corporate restructure in 2000. This restructuring would name Alticor as Amway’s new mother-company, where Dick would serve as President until 2002. Dick has since set his eyes on The Windquest Group, an investment management firm that has holdings in manufacturing, technology, and numerous other sectors.