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It’s not Philanthropy, It’s Ideological and Class Warfare: How the DeVos Family Foundation contributions complement their political donations – Part IV – Funding DeVos-created projects

August 24, 2020

We were recently able to access the 2018 990 documents from the various DeVos family foundations, through These foundations include, the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, the Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation and the CDV5 Foundation.

We have been tracking the DeVos family foundations for years, since it provides useful information on how the family strategically uses their money to influence the world around us. It is important to recognize that when people generally think of philanthropy, they think of money going from those with tremendous wealth to non-profits who provide needed services in the community. While there is some truth to this, what we will demonstrate in this series of articles, is that the DeVos family uses their foundation money to primarily wage ideological and class warfare.

In Part I of this series, we looked at how the DeVos family foundation funded and influenced educational institutions in West Michigan and across the US. In Part II, we looked at how the DeVos family foundations funded far right Christian organizations, and in today’s post we want to take a look at how these same foundation have funded Think Tanks and other groups that influence public policy, along with organizations that practice far right and Neoliberal policies. In Part III, we looked how the DeVos foundations are funding far right think tanks and other public policy influencing organizations.  Today, we want to focus on how much the DeVos foundations have contributed to organizations which they have created themselves during the 2018 fiscal year alone.

AmplifyGR – $62,994 – The DeVos-created AmplifyGR was born in secrecy, with millions being spent to purchase land in the Boston Square area of Grand Rapids, before the organization revealed its plans to the public. GRIID has posted nearly two dozens articles about AmplifyGR and what is so problematic about what their longterm plans are for the mostly Black neighborhood. 

ArtPrize – $900,000 – We have also written extensively about ArtPrize, from multiple angles, but one thing is clear that ArtPrize has financially benefited the DeVos family and their closest allies in the Grand Rapids area

Believe 2 Become – $688,529 – One non-profit director told us that AmplifyGR was created by the DeVos family, since the Believe 2 Become project had not brought them the results fast enough. Even so, Believe 2 Become has been a tremendous vehicle for the DeVos family, providing an opportunity in insert Christianity into the GRPS and to promote business class values and “talent development.” 

Christian Leadership Institute – $837,000 Richard DeVos Sr. mentored the founder of the Christian Leadership Institute, which develops Christian leaders in the same ideological framework that drives the DeVos family. 

Gatherings of Hope – $888,471 – Gatherings of Hope (GOH) was created specifically through the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, to develop local Christian leadership, to document what social services that churches were providing and how best to connect those services to people. GOH does nothing to dismantled the systems of power and oppression, which cause individuals and families to seek out the services that these churches offer

Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders – $100,000 – The GRIL is an outgrowth of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, which says that their goal is to, “make a positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged, urban youth by investing in their leaders.” Essentially, this project is designed to get urban youth interested in Christianity and capitalism, without questions the larger systems of power and oppression that created their “disadvantage.” 

edNet – $330,527 – edNet was created as a way to infiltrate public schools and to pull teachers away from participating in unions. Read our assessment of what is problematic about this DeVos-create entity.

Start Garden Foundation – $230,000 – Start Garden, was created by Rick DeVos as a venture capitalist project that the son of Dick & Betsy could run. The project has shifted in recent years by attempting to win over Black and latinx residents to the joys of entrepreneurism. Here is just one of the critiques we have written about Start Garden

West Michigan Aviation Academy – $832,000 – This school is a pet project of Dick DeVos, in part because of his interest in flying, but more importantly his commitment to privatized education. In 2019, Dick got mad because Gov. Whitmer was against an increase in funding of charter schools, with public money. 

In the end, besides the millions of dollars that the DeVos family foundations have contributed to organizations that embrace their ideological and capitalist class values, they have made it a goal of theirs to create their own organizations that can promote the ideological and class warfare they are waging against us, without all the messiness that comes with organizations that the DeVos family can’t always control.

In Part V of this series, we will look at which non-profits in Grand Rapids received funding from the DeVos foundations and how that prevents them from challenging power and oppression.

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