Dick and Betsy DeVos have given a lot to the Grand Rapids and general Michigan business communities, but they’ve also taken up a lot of causes in issues that matter. They both have worked hard to reform education and labor laws affecting locals in Michigan and have been involved in nationwide efforts as well. They both are chairs of the Dick & Betsy DeVos foundation that has given millions to education and healthcare endeavors around the state, and this work is part of the reason President Trump chose Betsy to be Secretary of Education. Dick and Betsy certainly have donated to the campaigns of both national and local Republican political candidates, but even excluding that it is estimated that their total charities total over $139 million in lifetime giving.
Dick DeVos is the Chairman of The Windquest Group, an investment firm whose portfolio consists of alternative energy suppliers, water purification companies, local restaurants, a home storage retailer and non-profit groups such as ArtPrize and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. Dick DeVos started this company back in 1989, but prior to and even after founding it, Dick worked at the company his father Richard DeVos Sr. helped found, Amway Corporation. Dick got his degree in business from Northwood University and started out as a company manager, but soon worked his way up to the executive board along with his brothers Daniel and Douglas.
As company vice president, he and Daniel started making more decisions in establishing operations overseas and growing the customer base. Dick left Amway briefly when he started the Windquest Group, and he even was president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic for a time shortly after his father bought the team. He returned in 1993 and led Amway as CEO for about 10 years growing their sales and profits even further. In 2002 he stepped down and has made The Windquest Group his sole priority.
As education reformers, Dick and Betsy have helped start scholarships such as the Education Freedom Fund and Children First America. They’ve given to private schools such as Potter’s House and Grand Rapids Christian School, and they’ve also supported university business programs at places such as Grand Valley State and Dick’s alma mater Northwood. They helped start the West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2010, a charter school whose curriculum is primarily based in aviation.
Dick and Betsy also have run for public office themselves. Dick’s first election was to the Michigan State Board of Education in 1990, and Betsy was elected to chair of the Michigan Republican Party. In 2006 he decided to run against incumbent Governor Jennifer Granholm when he felt there needed to be changes to the state’s economy. He lost by a 14-point margin, but he didn’t let that deter him from running grassroots efforts to make changes at the state level. In 2012 his efforts paid off when he helped get a right-to-work law passed. Dick DeVos is also the author of Rediscovering American Values, a book that defines his conservative beliefs.