The DeVos family, headed by former AmWay Group President Dick DeVos, has largely kept their philanthropic work under wraps as they have sought to develop a range of charitable giving techniques that are now reported to have reached $139 million for Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy alone. The family as a whole have impressed me by giving away around one quarter of their estimated $5 billion fortune that was earned through the creation of the AmWay group established by Richard DeVos in the 1950s. In a bid to understand how the philanthropic work of Dick DeVos is achieved I have looked over the 2013 donations made by Dick and his wife, Betsy to gain a better understanding of the work they have began and continue through their own Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation.
It is not possible to explore the philanthropic work of Dick DeVos beyond 2013 as these are the last set of taxes available at the time of writing, but I believe the details of 2013 provide an insight into the areas of concern for the couple that are being explored on a regular basis. As one of the most high profile education reformers in the U.S. I was not surprised to discover Dick DeVos had provided the majority of his philanthropic support for educational causes over the course of 2013 to the tune of over $3 million of the $11.6 million donated. The former member of the Michigan Board of Education and his wife Betsy have provided support for a number of education reform groups, but also provided over $300,000 in support for the West Michigan Aviation Academy on an annual basis to help make sure students from economically disadvantaged families and minority groups have the chance to attend this charter school.
I always expected to discover Dick DeVos provided the majority of his support for educational reform groups, but he has also become known for the backing he has provided for various arts based programs. In 2013, I was happy to see Dick gave around $2.4 million to arts and culture based programs; a figure I was not surprised by after seeing recalling the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation worked with the Kennedy Center for the Arts in providing $22 million in support for what would become the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the University of Maryland. As in almost every aspect of the charitable work of Dick DeVos children and students always rise to the top of the programs backed, particularly in terms of providing financial support for the employment of a top childhood cancer researcher to be located at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Posted in: Philanthropy