When you think about education, it isn’t always a given. In my mind, I look upon education as a way to gain ground in the marketplace. But, not all kids in America have equal access to learning, and I’m not talking about higher education either. There are people who are aiming to change this and not just by being mouthpieces; but actually putting their “money where their mouths are.” One such individual is Dick DeVos. DeVos could easily ignore the plight of American children, seeing how his Daddy is rich. DeVos’ father is none other than, Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway. But, rather than hide behind his money, Dick DeVos uses it for philanthropy.
Dick DeVos and his wife have made educational gift giving apart of their lives. In all their marriage years, DeVos and his wife, Betsy have contributed $139 million to various charities. During the calendar year, 2015 the DeVos’ Charitable foundation gave out $11.6 million. For regular folks like me, it’s hard to imagine a family committed to education pursuits of others. But, that’s where $3 million in contributions have been distributed. Of that amount, three percent of the funding has gone directly towards educational reforms.
When asked about his family commitment to reforming the education system, Dick DeVos has this to say, “the current system was not fulfilling the American dream.” I think it’s obvious that DeVos wants to help create an education system that’s fair to all. He went on to say that the problems with the education process in America, is becoming a “civil rights” struggle. I’m certain that these efforts are best appreciated by anyone who’s been denied a school voucher. Dick DeVos is not changing the education system for appearances sake; he’s interested in providing the parents of underprivileged children with vouchers; so that children in failing schools have a choice.
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dick DeVos is known for his philanthropy; but also for strong ties to the community. He supports leadership programs, the arts and churches in Grand Rapids and surrounding areas. In 2006, when he learned that the city was looking to build a children’s hospital; DeVos and his wife pitched in $12.5 million for the construction. Another love of Dick DeVos is aviation, he dedicates a portion of the charitable giving towards developing education initiatives for potential student pilots. And has also started an aviation charter high school. His work history has mostly involved leadership positions with his family’s business, Amway. DeVos was CEO, from 1999 to 2002. Now he’s the President and CEO of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation and of the Windquest Group.