Dick DeVos has earned billions in his business ventures over the years from being CEO of Amway to investing in Michigan startups and energy companies that have yielded high returns. But Dick DeVos has used that money to help non-profits effect changes on the state and national level in education and social welfare. He’s a board member of several colleges and universities including his alma mater Northwood University, and the founding trustee of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. His wife Betsy Prince DeVos is the current Secretary of Education, and just prior to her confirmation she and Dick released the records of $139 million in total philanthropy.
Dick DeVos was born in 1955 and got started in business while he was still young. The business he began in was his father’s company, Amway Corporation which sells products through independent business owners. Dick was a manager at age 19 and then became Vice President of Sales at age 29. In 1989 he founded The Windquest Group along with Betsy, and in 1991 became President of the Orlando Magic. In 1993 he assumed the role of CEO at Amway when his father, Richard DeVos Sr. retired. Dick turned Amway into a multi-layered operation when he started Alticor in the mid 1990s, and by the time his tenure as CEO ended he had generated billions in international sales.
Dick DeVos has teamed up with his wife Betsy to make freedom of education central to the DeVos Foundation. They’ve both funded scholarships for needy families and have helped start schools including the West Michigan Aviation Academy. But they’ve also both been influential in the Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee having donated over $17 million to campaigns. In 2006 Dick decided to run for Governor of Michigan, an endeavor that had promise at the outset but fell short at the ballot box. In 2012 he teamed up with the Heritage Foundation to bring a right-to-work law to pass, a big victory over labor unions.
Dick DeVos started making big changes to the Grand Rapids city venues back in the early 1990s when he formed Grand Action Committee and became a part of many building projects aimed at generating business growth in the downtown. He also became the key contributor to a new children’s hospital construction that was eventually named for his mother Helen DeVos. Dick is also a supporter of ArtPrize, an art competition hosted in downtown Grand Rapids that features all kinds of custom art works.