Dick DeVos, creator and current President of the Windquest Group, has stacked up a career in executive positions. He began working for his father Richard in 1974 at Amway, later succeeding his father as President in 1993. However, from 1991-1994, he served as President and CEO of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. He was able to successfully open new markets and triple international sales for Amway in his time there as President between 1993-2002. Along with his prosperous career, he and his wife, Betsy, are also known to me for their abundant and active philanthropy.
The DeVos family, Richard Sr. and his four eldest children, have given nearly 139 million dollars in charitable donations throughout their lifetimes. 11.6 million in charitable contributions were given in 2015 alone. The family contributed an impressive 104 million dollars that year to different charitable organizations, getting them the ranking of 24th in a recent list of “America’s Top Giver’s”. Of Dick’s overall contributions, 26% were towards education with another 3% going to groups that encourage education reform. He highly values the idea that all children have the right to an equally provided quality education that is not dependent on where they live, to which I completely agree. In working towards this monumental goal, Dick and Betsie make certain that the schools they support are thorough, equipped with highly skilled and adequate staff, and are accountable for their performance.
Five years ago, DeVos launched the West Michigan Aviation Academy, the first aviation-themed charter school. The school places a priority on aeronautical engineering, STEM, and complex robotics. The academy buses in children from 7 surrounding counties, one-third being economically disadvantaged and 40% of whom are minorities. The school has proven itself a success with a 86% graduation rate. It even has 15 newly licensed pilots among its graduating class last year. DeVos states that he is proud at the test scores of the academy but his priority having a positive impact on the students’ lives and meeting the high standards of the parents. This is a refreshing perspective among philanthropists that I can only hope is contagious.
Dick DeVos also sets arts and culture as a high priority in his philanthropy, 21% of his contributions in 2015 being geared to this category. He and his wife provided a monetary gift of 22 million in order to launch the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, which follows the vision of Michael Kaiser to encourage the business side of the arts. Both believe that this aspect of the arts is crucial to the growth and diversity of the global art community. The DeVos name is quickly becoming one associated with its philanthropy and Dick hopes to keep this alive by ensuring his contributions are responsible and long-standing.