Dick and Betsy DeVos have over the years garnered a lot of attention and some criticism as well for their huge political donations. However, I found that these donations were dwarfed by the amount the two have made in charitable contributions, which adds up to $139M in their lifetime. When Betsy DeVos was scheduled to appear for her confirmation hearing as a nominee for the U.S. Education Secretary post earlier in the year, her contributions to school choices and the Republicans had been scrutinized. The couple then decided to lift the veil on the millions they had contributed towards philanthropic causes via their foundation.
In 2015, the DeVos family contributed $11.6 million to charity, according to a report I read on the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation’s website. This was double the $5.3 million the family had donated in campaign donations over the past five years. The couple form part of a huge family dynasty that supports the Republicans as well as making large contributions to charity. In 2015, the extended DeVos family contributed $104 million to charity. This earned the family the 24th place in Forbes’ list of America’s Top Givers. Forbes placed the lifetime giving of the extended DeVos family at $1.33 billion.
Focus On Dick DeVos Philanthropy
For Dick and his wife, their philanthropy efforts prioritize on education. In the year 2015, more than $3 million were channeled towards educational causes, taking up 26% of their annual donations then. Their family foundation awarded a further $357,000 or 3% to groups supporting education reform. Dick DeVos explained that their foundation was keen on improving education as the current system was not fulfilling the American dream as it should. The foundation works hard to better the school choice system to avoid the scenario where children born in the wrong zip code have no shot at enjoying the American dream. I noted that the report did not give a breakdown of all the beneficiaries like the 2013 report that showed all the Michigan schools that had benefitted from the family’s annual contributions.
About Dick DeVos
Dick DeVos has worked in a number of executive positions over his long business career at Amway, Orlando Magic Franchise, NBA and at The Windquest Group, where he is the president today. Apart from his business career, Mr. DeVos sets time for community initiatives. He established the Education Freedom Fund, which donated over 4,000 scholarships to deserving children based in Michigan. He also helped establish the West Michigan Aviation Academy. Dick DeVos was also involved in the State Board of Education at some point.