The DeVos family of West Michigan is known for giving away billions in their efforts to make the Grand Rapid area the best community to live in as well as in support of education, health and community services, arts and culture, and faith based organizations. Michigan Live reported that the family has a total lifetime philanthropy total of $1.2 billion which doesn’t include their continual support of the Republican Party. In 2014 the DeVoses gave $94 million and was 20th in the annual Top 50 givers list. According to the 2013 IRS records, the DeVoses donated $90.9 million with $60 million staying in the greater Grand Rapids area. For months, the DeVos family have been contributing to GOP candidates or super PACS (Political Action Committees) and have given at least $21,600 to Marco Rubio, who Dick and wife Betsy have know since his days as the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2006-2008 while they were gaining support for the expansion of school choice laws in the state of Florida. Dick said that Marco deserved a lot of credit for the gains in education for the children of Florida. He went on to say that the Republican party needed a leader of Marco’s capability, experience and perspective. Although New Day for America, a super PAC, favors Ohio Governor John Kasich as the better candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton, Dick DeVos said that the primaries allow them to sort out which candidate was the best choice and that it is Marco Rubio became clear. The hope is that this will be realized by all Republicans by convention time.
He also contributed $2,700 to both Bush and Rubio committees in November. His wife Helen donated $2,700 each to Kasich, Bush and Rubio at that time as well. Dick DeVos told The Detroit News that his family decided to back Rubio after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race and added that he would like to do what he could to help Marco gain momentum. With the announcement of his support, there is sure to be lots of campaign contributions to Rubio’s campaign. The DeVos family giving encourages others to give as well. He has generated support for projects that benefited Grand Rapids including philanthropic collaborators with the late Fred Meijer, Peter Wege, and Jim Brooks. The DeVoses also have 5 foundations to help their community improvement efforts and have given directly to non-profit organizations. Rich DeVos has also earned the title of Grand Valley State University largest donor with contributions of $36 million. He had a vision back 50 years ago when GVSU was a small school in the middle of a cornfield and said that it needed to become an academic village that would benefit students, fuel downtown development and make West Michigan a better place. It now has a 82% retention rate, an all time enrollment record of 25,094 students and is the fourth largest public university in the state. Although Dick DeVos was defeated for a bid for governor in 2006, the influence of the DeVos family has had and continue to have an impact.