Though Dick and Betsy DeVos are acknowledged for their huge political donations, their contributions to charity continue to raise eye brows. The DeVos family has donated a total of $139 million since they started giving to charity.
A Review of The Donations By the DeVoses
When Betsy DeVos was nominated as the U.S. Education Secretary, she was questioned about her contributions towards school choice causes, and to Republican candidates, during the vetting process.
A publication on the DeVos Family Foundation site shows that in 2015, the DeVos couple gave away $11.6 towards charitable contributions. This is more than twice the amount the couple had doled out in political donations over the past five years.
The DeVos family has been actively involved in Republican politics for years. This tradition of giving to the community was established by Dick’s dad, Rich DeVos. The senior DeVos and his four children donated to charity a total of $104 million. This landed the family in the 24th place on Forbes’ list of “America’s Top Givers”. Forbes further estimated the family’s lifetime contributions to be worth $1.33 billion.
In 2015, the Dick and Betsy DeVos channeled more than $3 million towards educational causes. The DeVos foundation further awarded $357,000 to groups that supported the idea of education reform.
Dick’s Work History
In 1991, there was a plan to build a multi-purpose convention and sports arena in Grand Rapids. At that time Dick DeVos was working at Amway Corp, his family’s company. DeVos started campaigning against the Grand Rapids’ program. He was concerned that the convention centre would have negative consequences for the residents of downtown Grandrapids. His campaign led to the establishment of the Grand Action, a committee of business leaders who were behind the construction of the DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place Convention Center, Michigan State University’s medical school, Grand Rapids City Market, as well as Van Andel Arena.
Dick DeVos later became the CEO of Amway Corp between the years 1993 to 2002. DeVos lobbied for the 2012 law that allowed the employment of individuals who were not members of labor unions.
In 2006, Dick DeVos and his wife donated $12.5 million towards the construction of a children’s hospital named after the wife of the Amway co-founder, Richard DeVos.
Education reform is among the biggest initiatives by Dick DeVos. He is the founder of a charter high school dealing in aviation and that was established in Grand Rapids International Airport.
Dick DeVos has not always been successful in swaying the opinion of the public towards his philosophies. In 2000, DeVos proposed an amendment of the constitution to promote tax-funded vouchers for students attending private schools. Voters rejected this proposal on a massive scale. A few years later, Dick run for governor and lost to Jennifer Granholm. However, the DeVoses did not give up. They later shifted their ideals to other regions of the country. According to Betsy DeVos, the District of Columbia and 24 U.S. states currently use vouchers for private schools.