The Grand Days of Philanthropy Are Now: Dick DeVos and Charitable Giving

Some look back on the great contributions of Carnegie and Rockefeller as part of some golden age of charity. Both captains of industry spent billions towards noble causes in their day.

But really, these are the good old days. We’ve never before seen so much generosity expressed by so many, for so many varied projects.

I’m talking in this case specifically about the plan to expand the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in New York. The project started in 2013, and a call for donations went out. The response was overwhelming. By fall of 2015, they had seen contributions exceeding the initial $125 million target by over ten million dollars. The project to expand one of the great institutions of American arts will see three additional pavilions, and entirely separate riverside pavilion, and a pedestrian bridge to connect the two. Offices and dining spaces will be included when the upgraded center opens in 2018, surely to host even more than the current volume of 3 million visitors annually.

This shows a grand commitment to the arts in America. It’s a commitment from individuals who, having reached a level of success unimaginable in bygone ages, are giving back to the people and nation that made it all possible. These are self-made men and women acknowledging that no one is really entirely self-made.

Among the major contributors to the Kennedy Center expansion is Michigan’s Dick DeVos. After successfully leading the Amway Corporation his father co-founded, DeVos furthered his success with the Windquest Group and as owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team. This country has been very good to DeVos, and he’s shown his gratitude through his support for a wide array of charitable causes.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos foundation supports causes throughout his native Western Michigan – and beyond. The Grand Action organization Dick co-chairs has helped revitalize downtown Grand Rapids. One of the group’s major achievements has been the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. It has been the center of rebirth in a formerly blighted area. With the help of DeVos, it’s become a center for shopping, entertainment, relaxation, and education. It’s a prime example of the power of giving back.

Truly, we’re living in a time when the successful and prosperous take opportunities to give back to their communities in meaningful ways. The project at the Kennedy Center is just the latest, and perhaps grandest, example.

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