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Foundation Profile: Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation

February 25, 2013

This is our third foundation profile for our Grand Rapids Non-Profit Industrial Complex Project. So far we have looked at the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation and the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation.DeVos-2

Doug DeVos is the current President of Amway, the company that his father founded, along with Jay Van Andel.

The foundation that Doug and his wife Maria run is not as large as the elder DeVos or his brother Dick, but sizeable nonetheless.

We were able to access the 990 documents for this foundation for 2009 through 2011, from the online source Guidestar.

Like the other DeVos family foundations we have looked at, the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation has contributed significantly to conservative Christian organizations and organizations that promote the supremacy of free market capitalism.

Some of the groups that the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation have contributed to between 2009 and 2011 are the Willow Creek Association ($100,000), the Acton Institute ($159,350), the Mackinac Center for Public Policy ($65,000), Grand Action ($200,000) and the Heritage Foundation ($50,000).

This DeVos Family Foundation has also contributed significantly to the Grand Rapids Christian School Association ($7,106,000), the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation ($4,545,000) and the National Constitution Center ($3,175,000).

Doug DeVos is the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Constitution Center, which includes a whole host of conservative members, including Richard DeVos Sr. Despite the rather benign sounding name, the National Constitution Center promotes a rather narrow notion of civic engagement, with its current Chairman being Jeb Bush.AEI

Another large recipient of funding from the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation is the American Enterprise Institute – AEI ($1,750,000). The American Enterprise Institute has a along history of lobbying the federal government on issues ranging from Iraq, tobacco regulation and water policies. The American Enterprise Institute has had a strong relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has been at the forefront of much scrutiny for its lobbying practices. It also should be noted that the American Enterprise Institute is part of the network of organizations that deny climate change and has even offered money to scientists to publicly state their opposition to global warming.

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One last group that has been the recipient of Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation money is the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM has received $500,000 from the foundation, which has resulted in a national boycott against Amway.

The National Organization for Marriage aggressively opposed marriage equality and is a leading group that both lobbies and funnels money to state campaigns where marriage equality is on the ballot.

The California-based group Rights Equal Rights Cause initiated the boycott campaign last summer and is targeting Amway, since Doug DeVos is the current President of the family company.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    March 6, 2013 7:01 pm

    It’s great this is being done. Working in the nonprofit sector I see the desctructive ties everyday. I do think it’s fair to note that the Doug and Maria Devos Foundation spearheaded the Believe 2 Become initiative. B2B isn’t totally unproblematic in itself, and is probably so supportive of public schools to keep certain people out of Devos’ kids schools, but it has done a bit of good for the community. This is such a large and visible initiative within the community that I think it’s really important to recognize it whether good or bad.

  2. Heather permalink
    March 6, 2013 7:12 pm

    Being in the nonprofit sector I see destructive ties everywhere, so I’m glad this is being done. I think it’s really important to acknowledge the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation’s high level of involvement in the Believe 2 Become initiative, especially given that they have a very grassroots community based organization running it. The initiative isn’t unproblematic by any means, but it has way too much activity in this community to ignore when addressing their funding.

  3. March 6, 2013 7:23 pm

    Heather, thanks for the input and the commentary about the Believe to Become initiative. This project is not looking at the issue of Foundation funding through a simple good/bad dichotomy, rather the more subtle dynamics of how funding from the wealthy influences community projects, engages in social management and even censors or re-directs grassroots attention away from the cause of wealth disparities in our communities. The other half of this project will include interviews with local non-profits and how they deal with these funding dynamics.

Trackbacks

  1. Foundation Profile: Dan & Pamella DeVos Foundation | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  2. DeVos funded NOM leader says, “the human heart knows Gay Marriage is Wrong” | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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