Meet Changemaker Dick DeVos

Crain’s Detroit Business calls Dick DeVos a changemaker. Very few people in Grand Rapids, Michigan, would argue with that fact. Take a closer look at why the pseudonym is so extremely fitting.


Changemakers Work Constantly for the Greater Good


Changemakers are always looking for how they can make life better for others. Dick DeVos has spent his lifetime doing that. When it was proposed that a convention center be built north of downtown Grand Rapids, Dick realized what had happened in similar towns where this had happened. He quickly took action and he and others joined hands to transform the downtown Grand Rapids area. The result is the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market and Michigan State University’s medical school. Dick not only invested his time into transforming Grand Rapids, but he was a major donor for the DeVos Place Convention Center and the DeVos Performance Hall. Dick says that one of his proudest moments was the building of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital because it allows Grand Rapids parents to stay at home when their children are sick. Learn more:


Changemakers Connect in a Personal Way


Dick and Betsy DeVos may be best remembered for the impact they had on freedom of choice in education. While Betsy was educated at Holland Christian High School, Dick was educated at the Forest Hills public school system. It was not until the couple met the staff and students at Potter’s House that they became firmly committed to the value of the right to receive a private education for every student. For more than 30 years, the couple has regularly visited the school and taken time to connect with students. At Betsy’s suggestion, Dick also opened the Grand Rapids Aviation Academy. They both firmly believe that giving parents options is the best choice for everyone with control remaining as local as possible.


Changemakers are Not Isolated


Dick DeVos loves to connect with other people. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation has given away more than $139 million dollars. It is estimated that the family, including the founders of Amway, have given away over $1.33 billion in their lifetimes or about 25 percent of what they have earned in profits. While about 26 percent of the grantees from the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation are involved in education, it is not their only interest. The foundation also gives about 24 percent of their money to organizations involved in the arts. The rest of the money is broken down into smaller pieces including:


  • Civic and Community Projects- 16 percent
  • Leadership Development 13 percent
  • Public Policy 12 percent
  • Health and Human Services 5 percent
  • Churches 4 percent


One of the things that the couple stresses when giving away their money is that it comes with no strings attached. They feel that those who work most closely with an issue are the best sources of how the money should be spent.