It’s pretty incredible how much Amway co-founder and philanthropist Dick DeVos has given to a wide array of causes over the years. When I think about the $1.2 billion he has given away in his lifetime, it’s hard to fathom how much money that actually is. In 2014 alone, he and his family donated $94 million to various causes, according to Forbes. The Dick and Betsy DeVos foundation has donated quite generously to a wide array of causes in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
DeVos’ Foundation is known primarily for serving causes such as school choice for local charter schools and the arts. However, one thing that Dick DeVos and his family are known for is a love of sports. Dick himself served as President and CEO of the NBA’s Orlando Magic from 1991-1993. His brother Dan is the majority owner of the American Hockey League team, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Among the DeVos’ many contributions is helping fund the sports program in Grand Rapids, MI. They did this through the non-profit called Believe 2 Become, along with Dick’s sister’s foundation. What I like most about that contribution was the purpose was so that students in the urban district wouldn’t have pay-to-play fees.
My favorite of his contributions in Grand Rapids was his grand plan to revitalize the Grand Rapids downtown area. It was called the Grand Action project. DeVos was able to gather over 50 civic and community leaders to create a feasible and economically productive plan. Once the plan was made, he worked with local bankers to make it happen. The sports arena would become the Van Andel Arena, where his brother Dan’s Griffins play. His plan also created a new convention center, renovation of the local theater, and a new art museum, among other things. Dick’s clear goals and organization skills made it happen, and I’m sure the people of Grand Rapids will be forever grateful.
With a net worth of $5 billion, it’s good to see that Dick DeVos is more than just a man who spends his money on his causes. He’s also willing and able to bring local leaders together for a good cause. I definitely respect what he did for the residents of Grand Rapids. He gave their children not only a better education with his dollars. His efforts gave a chance to prove themselves on the sports fields, something they may have otherwise not been able to afford.