Dick DeVos has been in the political spotlight a few times, and it’s now because his wife Betsy has been selected by President Donald Trump to be Secretary of Education. But DeVos is most known for his business accomplishments with his company, The Windquest Group. The Windquest Group invests in alternative energy and new technology companies such as clean bottled water and military power supply companies. Dick DeVos has also invested in non-profit groups at this company including ArtPrize and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. Aside from his business expertise, Dick and Betsy have been giving back to the Grand Rapids community for many years, and in light of Betsy’s nomination to the Department of Education they disclosed that they had given around $139 million in lifetime philanthropy.
Dick DeVos comes from a very successful and generous family that has made an impact in the Michigan business community over the years. His father, Richard DeVos Sr. is well-known for being one of the founders of Amway Corporation, a multilevel marketing company that has helped independent business owners start their own companies selling various products. Dick and his brothers Daniel and Douglas have all been company executives at one time or another, including Dick’s years as CEO from 1993 to 2002. Dick had founded The Windquest Group in 1989 and ran it on the side while serving as CEO of Amway, but he decided to become fully invested in it by 2002.
Dick’s political career began with education reform when he won election to the Michigan State Board of Education in 1990. He only stayed at that post for 2 years, but he founded the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation in 1992 and devoted much of its philanthropy to education funding. He and Betsy have primarily supported private schools such as Potter’s House and Grand Rapids Christian School, but they have also supported charter and public schools over the years. They’ve given money to scholarships for low-income families and at one point attempted to have legislation favoring private school vouchers and tax credits passed. They personally founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy that has a curriculum based in aviation but offers courses in other fields.
Dick DeVos has been highly concerned with the job market across Michigan and it became a focal point of his 2006 gubernatorial campaign. He failed to defeat incumbent Jennifer Granholm in that race, but he continued to partner with conservative activists to reform labor laws. In 2012 he led an effort that passed a right-to-work law despite campaigns put out by labor unions to stop it. Dick DeVos has also given to libraries, museums and art institutions including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. that renamed it’s art institute in Dick and Betsy’s honor due to their gift. He also is the author of a 1998 bestseller, Rediscovering American Values.