Dick DeVos: Mastering the Art of Public-Philanthropy in Education Sector

Wealthy beneficiaries are important pillars of success for many nonprofit organizations. They contribute significant amounts of money, which are critical in helping the organizations meet their foundational objectives and ultimately make the desired positive impact in the society. While many of these beneficiaries have stayed in the background, some of them have come to fore in a bid to inspire more people to engage in philanthropic activities and support the causes they hold dear to their hearts. One such philanthropist who has lifted the veil on his family’s financial contributions towards philanthropic activities and causes he holds dear is Richard ‘Dick’ DeVos; an education reformist and philanthropist, and cofounder and current president of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation.

 

Funding the Pro-choice Education Reform Movement

 

It was recently revealed that together with his family, Dick DeVos had contributed a staggering $139 million in charity donations. This brought their overall contributions to charitable causes to an eye-catching figure of $1.33 billion in the past years. In the past year, the family’s combined contribution to charitable causes stood at $11 million. The recent figures shot the family onto the top of the list of the leading philanthropists. More telling is their amount of these funds that have been directed to a cause that Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy DeVos strongly support: education reform.

 

As a lifetime education reformist, Dick DeVos has directed much of their contributions to finance education reform initiatives especially in his home state of Michigan. Together with his wife, Mr. DeVos has led a spirited fight against the current uniform approach to education, commonly practiced in public schools. The funds were donated to various organizations dedicated to ensuring that children receive high quality education. Their dedicated work in Michigan has seen significant improvements in education standards in the state. Their pro-choice ideology has seen them contribute millions of dollars to support chart schools, which challenge the one-size-fits-all philosophy that has dominated the American public education sector. The charter school system that the family supports allows students and parents to go to schools of their own choosing.

 

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation: Proponents of a New Dawn

 

Much of the charitable initiatives that Dick DeVos and his wife championed for mirror the foundational objective of the charitable organization they cofounded in 1989 in Michigan. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-headquartered nonprofit organization is dedicated to building strong communities through various empowering initiatives. In their bid to build healthier communities, the foundation has supported various programs on health, arts and other causes that touch on children’s issues such as children’s right to quality education. Art, in particular, strongly interests the family. The family has contributed over $20 million to an art institute at the Kennedy Center, which was later renamed in the honor of the couple. The couple has supported the annual Grand Rapids ArtPrize through finances and expertise.

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