Dick Devos is often known for his executive career and for his wife, Betsy Devos, I did not realize that he is also quite the philanthropist. He began his prestigious career as President and CEO of Orlando Magic from 1991-1994, then as President of Amway from 1993-2002 where he impressively tripled international sales, or presently, where he is serving as President of the Windquest group. His history of philanthropy has proven to be just as impactful and with greater purpose and personal fulfillment.
I discovered that Devos places the heaviest focus on education, as 26% of his charitable donations in 2015 went towards education and another 3% to groups that support education reform. DeVos seeks to assist in providing equal opportunity for all students to receive a high-quality education, no matter the zip code in which they live. He and his wife take much care to ensure that the schools they support are rigorous, have skilled staff and can hold themselves accountable to a high standard. A way they have chosen to do this is by launching an aviation-themed charter school 5 years ago. The school stresses focus on STEM, aeronautical engineering, and robotics. It charters students from 7 surrounding counties, a third of whom are economically disadvantaged and nearly half considered minorities. The success of this school is made apparent by the 86% graduation rate yet Dick places importance on the positive impact on the students’ lives, attitudes, and view of the world as well as the feedback from their parents.
Coming in second at 21% of his donations in 2015, is his support of arts and culture. He donated 22 million specifically to launch the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. Devos guaranteed that it went toward Michael Kaiser’s efforts to better the business aspect of arts organizations, where he believes as I do, that the future of the global art community is hinging on having excellent arts management. He and Betsy also provided a donation to the Spectrum Health Foundation for the sole purpose of securing a top physician and researcher in childhood cancers which noticeably increased the survival rate for those treated at the Helen DeVos Children Hospital. When DeVos chooses to make a contribution, he is adamant that it be an impactful one.