Most people–especially successful business people and entrepreneurs–get involved in philanthropy because they are passionate about a singular issue, such as education, medicine, or the arts. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, however, is different in that it actively donates and participates in the betterment of all of these fields, and more.
The organization was founded in 1990 by entrepreneur Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy. It is perhaps best known for its vast contributions to education, including funding and opening many charter schools, including the West Michigan Aviation Academy, which was the first ever public high school in the united states specifically designed for students with an interest in aviation. DeVos states that he is very grateful for his education growing up, but that he would have loved to attend an aviation school as a child, as he has always had a passion for flying.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation is also well-known for its stance on a balance between being charitable and also teaching and encouraging self-responsibility. As such, the foundation often acts as a grantee for other organizations that demonstrate a similar span of beliefs and values.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos foundation is also well-established as a supporter of the arts, largely thanks to a $22.5 million donation to the Kennedy Center Institute of Arts Management, making it both the largest single donation from the foundation, as well as the largest donation ever received by the school. As a result, it was renamed the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.
There is certainly something to be said about a philanthropist that clearly demonstrates so many different passions and allocates his resources to as many of them as possible. Most philanthropists act almost solely on personal experience; they change the world in ways that are personal to them. It appears to me that Dick DeVos takes action based not on personal experiences, but simply from a deep sense of gratitude and community.
For more information about the DeVos family and their work, please visit www.dbdvfoundation.org.