I have always been fascinated by successful people who use their resources and time to serve the communities that supported their business endeavors. Dick DeVos offers a good example. He was born Richard Marvin “Dick” DeVos Jr. on October 21, 1955 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father, Richard DeVos was the co-founder of Amway, a billion dollar company that specializes in multi-level marketing. Growing up, DeVos was closely involved in the family business, from acting as a mini-host at Amway annual conventions to working his way through the company ranks and ultimately ending up as one Amway’s vice-presidents in 1984. In his role as a VP, DeVos grew the company’s international presence from 5 to 50 percent over a six year period. After a ten year hiatus from Amway, DeVos return in 1993 to succeed his father as the President of the company. After seeing Amway through a successful growth period, DeVos retired from Amway and went on lead the Windquest Group, a privately held investment management firm.
Not only was DeVos was a successful businessman and entrepreneur, he also dedicated his life as a public servant and philanthropist. In the late 90s, DeVos earned a seat on the Michigan State Board of Education, and was also appointed to serve on the Grand Valley State University Board of Control. In the early 2000s, DeVos launched a bid for the Governor’s seat in Michigan. His commitment to his home state was reflected on his platform; bringing jobs back to Michigan.
It is in DeVos’ philanthropic efforts where I am most interested in. It is in that part of his life, that his service to the community is reflected. It is where his fine-tuned business acumen intersects with his desire to serve; a quality that many admire. Along with his wife Betsy, the DeVos’ founded the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation with Dick serving as the President. The Foundation has donated millions of dollars to various organizations since its establishment in the 1990. Among some of the noteworthy Foundation projects that are recipients to the generosity are; Artprize, a Grand Rapids based art competition; The Dick and Betsy DeVos Scholarship program that supports graduate students at the Thunderbird School of Global Management; and a Pollution Study that studied Western Michigan’s Lake Macatawa pollution sources.
One of the most amazing tidbits of information that I read that is a lesser known fact is that the DeVos’ have given over $139 million in charitable donations over their lifetime. In 2015 alone, they contributed $11.6 million to various charities. Foundation and personal records show that educational causes top the couples commitment to philanthropic support. Giving without self-promotion, now that’s noteworthy.