The DeVos family, headed by Rich DeVos, the billionaire cofounder of Amway, has routinely made the Forbes list of the most giving families in the United States. Having donated more than $1 billion over the course of 40 years, the DeVos family is the largest single philanthropic entity in the state of Michigan and has long championed local causes around the West Michigan area, where the family originated.
One of the most famous members of the family is Dick DeVos, who is best known to most people for his 2006 failed bid for the governorship of Michigan. Even though he lost, the race was incredibly close, with DeVos losing to then incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm, by just a few percentage points. DeVos famously spent nearly $40 million of his own money running the campaign, which to this day he does not regret in the slightest.
However, DeVos and his wife Betsy DeVos are not without their critics. Many opponents of the DeVos family have long maintained that their charitable giving was largely in the form of political contributions. Never ostentatious or quick to engage in controversy, Dick DeVos had never found it necessary to reply to these critics, even as their bellowing reached a fevered pitch.
However, after Betsy DeVos was appointed the Secretary of Education by President Trump, as part of the vetting process, she was required to disclose all of her family’s charitable giving over the last decade. For the first time, the public became privy to the actual destination of all of the family’s charitable dollars. The results of this disclosure were quite striking.
Over the last approximately 20 years, DeVos has given away over $100 million of his own personal money to charitable causes. The vast majority of these have been non-political in nature. Over half of the donations have gone directly to education, through the DeVos family philanthropy called Great Lakes Education Foundation.
The vast majority of these donations go directly into the hands of students or directly to the programs that students use on a daily basis. Samples of some of the recipients of DeVos family charity include Compass College of Cinematic Arts, Ferris State University, the Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning School, DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, Northwood University and many others. The single thread that holds these targets of DeVos largesse together is that almost all of them are located within the state of Michigan.