Giving Where it Counts, Dick DeVos
Previously, the only thing I had heard of Dick DeVos was his position as the President of the Windquest Group, a group he launched himself, and their ambitious venture in 2010 that aimed to convert the heat from their manufacturing process into usable electricity. Now, however, I am aware that he was also President of Amway from 1993 to 2002, and that he was also the former President and CEO of Orlando Magic in the NBA from 1991-1994. Along with his notable career, he is also a philanthropist, and he often gives trusting the organization to best know how to use the donation but he also has been known to take an active role in his philanthropy to cause specific and positive changes.
The largest percentage of DeVos’ philanthropy is on education and groups that encourage education reform. It is of great importance to him that quality education is provided to every student and not have it be reliant on the zip code. In his quest to make this ideal world a reality, he launched the West Michigan Aviation Academy in the fall of 2010. The curriculum focuses heavily on aviation specific engineering and assorted robotics to provide students with usable skills. The academy buses students from 7 different counties and touts a graduation rate of an impressive 86%. DeVos garners pride from the positive influence it is having on the students’ lives and the opinion of the parents instead of from its impressive test scores. He is more concerned with the people than the numbers.
To the University of Maryland, 22 million was given by DeVos and his wife Betsy to create the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. DeVos aspires to grow and encourage the business side of the arts, recognizing that it is critical to the existence of the arts community to have an adequate arts management foundation and not allow it to be neglected. Dick and his family also make regular contributions to the Willow Creek Church in order to support and encourage leadership development programs with the main focus being its notable leadership summit.
DeVos actively makes the contribution process a family affair in order to teach his four children how they can make a difference in areas they care about. He allows them to have a hand in where donations are made, how much, and encourages them to find new causes and groups in which to send donations. To him, this is something he wants to be a family tradition that continues to be associated with the DeVos name.