The DeVos Family – A Force Behind the West Michigan Communities

The DeVos family is a well-known name in Michigan. Not only is the family one of the wealthiest in the state but its contribution to West Michigan signifies the pinnacle of philanthropy. According to various sources, the combined charity giving of the DeVos family exceeds $1.2 billion. Accordingly, the 2014 Forbes list ranked DeVos 20th in the list of 50 most generous families in the United States.

It is true that charitable giving has been a hallmark of wealthy West Michigan families that also includes Van Andel and Meijer. Over the years, the social elites of West Michigan are known by the amount of funds they contribute towards charitable cause instead of the trendy outfits they wear. When approached about the reported charity given by the DeVos, the family acknowledged that such public reports would likely encourage others to follow suit.

Interestingly, it should be noticed that Forbes only reports numbers that are available through public sources, therefore the reported figures does not reflect the distribution of funds. However, compilation of records by MLive and The Grand Rapids Press suggest that the family actively shares its donations with a number of sectors including education, health, community services, arts and churches. For instance, in 2013, 48 percent of funds went to education followed by 27 percent to health services. Accordingly, 66 percent was given to communities in Michigan and the rest was distributed mostly in the vicinity of Grand Rapids area.

The DeVos family constitutes five foundations, which work together to promote charity in the area. At the center of the family is its founder, Rich Devos, who is estimated to hold $5.7 billion in assets. Each of the five family foundations take lead in particular causes. In this respect, Dough and Maria DeVos Foundation is known to actively contribute towards the public schools in the area. Donating more than $2.6 million to the Grand Rapids Public Schools, the family vows to generate funds for the public schools, which also includes teacher training and teacher evaluation programs. Similarly, Dick DeVos is more popular as a successful entrepreneur and political activist.

Besides, family members also sit on the board of various prominent public and private institutions. For example, Pamela DeVos is a force behind the funding of Whitney Museum of American Art and its connections with Manhattan Museum.