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West Michigan Foundation Watch: Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation still funding the Christian Right

June 28, 2021

In this edition of West Michigan Foundation Watch, we look at the 990 document for the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation for 2019.

The 2019 990 document is significant, especially since this is the first year after the death of Richard DeVos, who died in 2018. It is significant, in that the numbers are down for the 2019 contributions from the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, which could be an indication that the foundation might be phasing out.

The only trustee listed on the 990 document for 2019, is the longtime DeVos family financial advisor, Jerry Tubergen. Tubergen is the CEO of RDV Corporation, and he is the CEO of Ottawa Private Capital LLC. 

However, even though the 2019 contributions from the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation are down from previous years, they still contributed just over $31 million.

The largest contributions, ones that are a million dollars or more are as follows:

Aquinas College $1,000,000

Central Presbyterian Church of New York $1,000,000

George W Bush Foundation $2,000,000

Grand Rapids Community College $1,000,000

Grand Valley State University $2,010,000

Kings College $5,000,000

Michigan State University Office of University Development $2,500,000

Spectrum Health Foundation $3,350,000

West Michigan Horticultural Society $1,035,000

These contributions alone come to just shy of $20 million of the $31 million contributed in 2019. The contributions to local Colleges and Universities has been consistent for decades for the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, primarily as a mechanism of influencing school policies, with GVSU as one example. https://griid.org/2018/09/13/gvsu-canonizes-rich-devos-but-some-students-push-back/ 

The entities to receive a million or more outside of West Michigan are due to the politics of those entities, such as Kings College, a Catholic school with a heavy emphasis on business; Central Presbyterian Church of New York, because of their conservative politics; and the George W Bush Foundation, since the DeVos family helped to elected George W Bush, with massive campaign contributions. 

However, there is a longer list of entities that received foundation contributions from the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, entities that would fall under the category of Religious Right.

In the anti-Choice category, you have the Right to Life of Michigan Educational Fund receiving $50,000, and the Pregnancy Resource Center receiving the same $50,000 amount. 

Then there are Christian groups that engage in White Saviorism, listed here, with the amount of money they received from the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation:

World Renew $150,000

Partners Worldwide $500,000

Mel Trotter Ministries $50,000

Luis Palau Association $200,000

International Aid Inc. $48,200

Guiding Light Mission $75,000

Music Mission Keiv Inc. $50,000

Evangelism Explosion III International Inc. $165,000

Christian Leaders NPF $150,000

Cardus Inc. $300,000

Back to God Ministries International $50,000

Zuni Christian Mission School $100,000

Rehoboth Christian School Association $350,000

The Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation also funds private schools and organizations which work to undermine public education:

Potters House $525,000

Mackinac Center $100,000

Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders $20,000

Alliance for Children Everywhere $200,000

There are also non-profits in Grand Rapids that do important work, but taking money from DeVos foundations also buys their silence, thus preventing them from speaking out on the harm that the DeVos family engages in, with their financial interests and their political funding. 

Even after both Richard & Helen DeVos pave passed away, their legacy of funding the political and religious right continues. 

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