The large political donations of Dick and Betsy DeVos get a lot of criticism and attention. Their lifetime charitable donations total $139 million. They belong to a family dynasty that has been involved in Republican politics for many years. The family placed number 24 on America’s To Givers list by Forbes. The couples philanthropy is a priority for educational causes and reform and they are determined to improve education. Dick and Betsy Devos have made donations to the Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids, the Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. Critics have accused them of making their contributions to promote charter schools and vouchers. Dick Devos states his donations meet the requirements for charitable organizations and include funding for the charter school advocacy group and the Great Lakes Education Foundation. He is adamant that his donations are meant to help people and support accountability, supervision, adult support and academic rigor.
After his educational donations, Dick Devos focuses on Arts & Culture. Along with his wife they donated $2.4 million in 2015 and have given $220 million to the launching of the Devos Institute of Arts Management. Their additional donations are divided between public policy, civic, community, health, human services, leadership, development and churches. Their contributions are known for not having any strings attached. Their commitment to leadership development is illustrated in their financial support of the Willow Creek church in Chicago. They have donated $1 million to support the global leadership summit of the church and church leaders across the globe.
Grand Rapids, Michigan planned to build a sports and convention center in 1991. Dick Devos lobbied against this idea because he felt it would be a detriment to downtown Grand Rapids. His campaign to stop the building of the sports complex was responsible for the building of Grand Action. This was a team of business leaders who backed the construction of the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Performance Hall, the DeVos Place Convention Center, Michigan State University’s medical school and the Grand Rapids City Market. Between the years of 1989 and 2015 the Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation donated $138.7 million to arts and culture, policy initiatives, education reform and scholarships for private schools and leadership programs. They led donations for a children’s hospital with a cost of $103 million with a contribution of $12.5 million. The children’s hospital gave families the ability to remain at home because they no longer had to spend time driving to Chicago or Ann Arbor. Educational reform is incredibly important to Dick and Betsy Devos. Mr. Devos founded a charter high school for aviation located at the Grand Rapids International Airport. He strongly believes in philanthropy and educational advocacy.