Betsy and Dick Devos have become known for making extremely large political donations. They have also donated almost $139 million to charities throughout their lives. In 2015 the couple donated $11.6 million to charities. They are a large part of a family dynasty that has been a part of Republican politics for numerous decades. Originally led by Rich Devos the Amway foundation has given $104 million to charities which put the elder Devos along with his four children on America’s Top Givers list. The list is sponsored by Forbes and the Devos’s are in 24th place.
The Devos family has donated $133 billion in their lives and this is approximately a quarter of their total assets. For Betsy and Dick their philanthropy is focused on education. More than $3 million was donated in 2015 for education. This was a total of 26 percent of their donations for the year. An additional $357,000 was donated to educational reform. Their main priority is the improvement of education. They feel the current educational system is far from the ideal of the American dream and the ones who suffer the most are children who are growing in certain zip codes.
Dick feels the educational system is failing because it is designed for one size fits all. He says despite the amazing administrators and teachers there is not a system effective enough to make them truly effective. A lot of Dick and Betsy’s donations have been for schools located in Michigan. These include the Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning, the Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids, the Northwood University in Midland, and the Ferris State University in Big Rapids. They have also been responsible for donations to the Michigan-based charter school advocacy group which the couple started and the Lansing-based Great Lakes Education Foundation.
Betsy and Dick Devos are trying to provide help directly to the people who need it the most. Betsy specifically gives her support to areas specializing in accountability, supervision, adult support and academic rigor. They have supported Potters House as well as Grand Rapids Christian Schools for a very long time.
The couple started the first aviation themed school in the country five years ago. The school is located on the Gerald R. Ford International Airports grounds. They not only write checks for the school every year but were responsible for donating the first plane for the school as well. They support the yearly fundraiser held by the school and have brought in Apollo astronauts and George W. Bush as speakers.