Dick DeVos was known to me for his formation of the Windquest Group and its environmental mindfulness, his large hand in politics, and mostly for his wife, Betsie. Unknown to me until recently, was that he and the rest of his close family are also heavy philanthropists, giving nearly 139 million dollars throughout their lifetimes in charitable donations. Former CEO of Orlando Magic NBA basketball team and once President of his father’s company Amway, Dick DeVos donated close 11.6 million dollars in the year 2015 alone. A trend I have picked up on in his giving is that he often is very particular in how the money is used to ensure it is spent in an effective and lasting way.
The largest category to which DeVos contributes is education and education reform, attributing to 29% of his charitable contributions in 2015. He donates with the intent of better providing the high-quality education students deserve and trying to break down the barriers that coming from a more impoverished area may have. In 2010, Dick launched the first ever aviation-themed charter school, West Michigan Aviation Academy with the idea of equal opportunity education in mind. It gives the surrounding 7 counties an opportunity to have their children study STEM, aeronautical engineering, and robotics by attending the academy. This gives the students skills valued in the job market, among the last graduating class there were even 15 newly licensed pilots. A marked 40% of students are minorities, and a third of students are considered economically disadvantaged. DeVos is happy with the amazing 86% graduation rate but is more intent on providing a positive change in the students’ lives and meeting the many standards of the parents.
Dick and his wife also place great importance on arts and culture, together donating 22 million in order to build and launch the DeVos Institute of Arts Management in Maryland. This was done with the intent of aiding in the future of the diverse global arts community, as they believe it is dependent on having quality arts management. I am amazed that they have taken such care in such an often forgotten area. Dick also made a donation to the Spectrum Health Foundation with the stipulation that it be used to recruit a top physician and researcher in childhood cancers for the Helen DeVos’ Children’s Hospital. A notable increase was observed in the survival rate of those treated there for childhood brain cancer with the obtainment of this physician. Dick DeVos does not give for the sake of giving but with a clear intention and long-term goals in mind.