Dick DeVos began The Windquest Group back in 1989 and aside from buying up Michigan startups and promoting non-fossil fuel energy, it’s also been a company that has done a lot for Grand Rapids’ downtown development. It began back in 1991 when the city was planning a new arena to be built in the outskirts of its limits, but Dick DeVos wanted to change the plan to move the construction to the downtown in order to spur business there. After many heavy grassroots campaigns and support from councilmen, the area was moved to the downtown, and after forming the Grand Action committee, Dick and his wife Betsy began a series of developments that greatly impacted Michigan.
It was in the early part of 2017 not long after Betsy was chosen to become US Secretary of Education that Dick DeVos decided to release information on a long-held mystery. He revealed after many years of inquiries from local Grand Rapids media outlets just how much the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation had given to charity over the years. The figure released showed around $139 million in total lifetime giving from the two business leaders, only a fraction of the philanthropy totaled over $1 billion from the DeVos family at large.
Dick DeVos started out at Amway Corporation before he founded The Windquest Group. His full name is Richard Marvin DeVos Jr., the son of Richard DeVos Sr. who currently owns the Orlando Magic and was a big contributor to former President Gerald R. Ford’s 1976 campaign. Dick DeVos served 16 years at the company before leaving for 4 years to pursue other interests, but then returned to take over as CEO and head of foreign sales. He formed Alticor during this time and Amway’s multilevel marketing services grew into 50 different countries. He retired in 2002, but his charity work has made the biggest impact to date.
Driven by his wife Betsy, an education reform activist, Dick DeVos helped start scholarship funding for private schools back in the 1990s and at one time attempted to pass a ballot measure to make private school vouchers in the state’s constitution. He also has been active at historical and traditional American value organizations such as Heritage Foundation and Action Institute. In 2006 he donated over $20 million to complete the children’s hospital in Grand Rapids for which he received the Art of Giving Award.
Dick DeVos has not only given to many Republican candidates including Former President George W. Bush and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, but he’s also run for office himself. He ran a highly contested governor’s race in 2006 against then Governor Jennifer Granholm but came up short. 6 years later though he won a hard-fought battle to pass a right-to-work law through Republican legislator support in Lansing. That same year he and Betsy made a donation to the University of Maryland to complete their art institute building which was renamed the Dick & Betsy DeVos Institute of Arts Management.