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West Michigan Foundation Watch: Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation – the art of influence

July 18, 2021

The 990 documents for local foundations are starting to be posted on GuideStar and we will be posting at least one a week for the next month or so.

The Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, like all of the DeVos family foundations is important to scrutinize, since they are the largest foundations in the area and have tremendous influence in supporting conservative religious groups, groups that practice a form of White Saviorism and public policy through think tanks and other groups that have an ideological framework that lines up with the DeVos family.

The Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation contributed $14.5 million in 2019, even though the foundation itself had $80 million in assets that same year.

The first list of contributions are for Private Charter and Public School Education entities. Many of these education entities are part of the national and local network of entities that have been part of network of organizations that Betsy DeVos is connected to, such as the Alliance for Children Everywhere, Leading Educators Inc., the New York Leadership Academy, Potters House and Hope Academy of West Michigan. Note that they contribute both to the Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation, which is the foundation for GRPS. This is because the GRPS has for the past several decades adopted more business-friendly education practices and even has specialty schools/academies that have pro-business influence and even business curriculum.  

EDNET $258,540

Alliance for Children Everywhere $260,000

Calvin University $500,000

First Steps Kent $150,000

Hope Academy of West Michigan $294,000

K-Connect $500,000

Kent School Services Network $150,000

Leading Educators Inc. $697,250 and $862,750

Talent 2025 $205,000

Wake Forest University $1,280,000

West Michigan Aviation Academy $315,000

Cornerstone University $114,500

Grand Rapids Christian Schools $163,000

Grand Rapids Public Schools $129,850

Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation $215,000

Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth Inc. $100,000

GVSU $175,000

New York City Leadership Academy $356,000

Potters House $100,000

Rehoboth Christian School Association $65,000

The group listed below here, are primarily are Conservative Christian groups, that have a history of practicing a form of White Savorism. Note, Bethany Christian Services recently changed their long-standing policy of allowing same sex couples to adopt, so we won’t know if the DeVos family contributions will continue or be as substantial until we have access to the 990 documents for 2021.

Gatherings of Hope $762975

Believe 2 Become $590,144

Bethany Christian Services $750,000

Christian Leadership Institute $100,000

Luis Palau Association $330,000

Tall Turf Ministries $200,000

Wedgewood Christian Services $685,000

Keystone Community Church $720,000

Then next group list below here are organizations that share a similar ideological that the DeVos family does, particularly a Neo-liberal brand of Capitalism, which involves significant State intervention and harmful austerity measures. 

National Constitution Center $3,025,000

Rende Progress Capital $275,000

Acton Institute $75,000

George W Bush Foundation $500,000

Mackinac Center $300,000

Lastly, there is one Grand Rapids development project that the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation is championing, since it also promotes development in the downtown area, which widely benefits the profits of the DeVos family, with the numerous hotels they own and other investments in that part of the city.

Grand Rapids Whitewater Inc. $750,000

One other important aspect of the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, is the fact that this foundation has started several initiatives, they also have a representative sitting on the Boards of numerous groups that the foundation makes contributions to, along with those entities that list the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation as Partners. This level of control and influence is substantial, and it reflects the interlocking systems of power that the DeVos family is involved in Grand Rapids and beyond.

Here are the projects that the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation has initiated

Believe 2 Become

https://believe2become.org/who-we-are/

Education Network of Greater Grand Rapids

https://www.ednetggr.org/EdNet-Home

AmplifyGR

This list is of groups that lists the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation as Partners

Alliance for Children Everywhere

https://www.childreneverywhere.org/our-people

Grand Rapids White Water

Leading Educators Inc. 

New York Leadership Academy

https://www.leadershipacademy.org/our-partners/

This final list has DeVos family members who sit not the Board of Directors or are Trustees of these organizations.

Christian Leadership Institute

National Constitute Center

https://constitutioncenter.org/about/board-of-trustees

Talent 2025

http://www.talent2025.org/about/ceo-council-members

AmplifyGR

We monitor foundations like the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, because they wield tremendous influence that impacts policy and practices within various sectors of society. To ignore this or frame their foundation contributions has benign or even beneficial is to not only ignore the strategic function of their foundation contributions, it minimizes the far right political contributions they also make.

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