Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation Sunsets After Impacting 1,000+ Organizations

May 2, 2024

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation announced today it will sunset its work following 54 years of immeasurable impact and support of 1,044 nonprofit organizations, including many in the couple’s home community of Grand Rapids and western Michigan.

Rich and Helen are credited with being a spark of inspiration to many and are being remembered as much for their leadership, vision and encouragement of others, as their financial philanthropic support that ultimately totaled $1.1 billion over their lifetimes. The couple prioritized support in the areas of the arts, economic development, education, faith, and health care.

“From the beginning of their lives together, Mom and Dad were motivated to give by their Christian faith, and that faith was always the foundation of their giving,” said daughter Cheri DeVos. “They also had an overwhelming belief in the potential of all people, and their desire to partner with others has left a lasting positive impact, especially in their hometown.”

Much of their giving was done in partnership with other community leaders, volunteers, nonprofit leaders, public officials, and others.

“If there was an opportunity to bring people together around a common cause for the betterment of the community, they were sure to be early cheerleaders and encouragers,” said son Dan DeVos. “They drew energy from working as a couple and working with others to bring new opportunities and support to many.”

The couple held a special place in their hearts for their hometown of Grand Rapids and the broader West Michigan community.

“They wanted people in their home community to have all they might need right here,” said son Dick DeVos. “That was a key driver of their health care giving, the desire for those who needed care to not have to travel elsewhere. They knew people would do better closer to family and home.”

Helen and Rich also knew they wanted to make as much of an impact as possible during their days on Earth and, when they passed on, believed it would be the time of other community leaders – including their children – to help drive the thriving culture of giving in west Michigan even further.

“Mom and Dad were firm believers that ‘now is the best time’, as it’s the only time we have,” said son Doug DeVos. “Their intention was never for their foundation to live on forever, but to lay the groundwork for future generations who would come and make their own impact. They, along with many others, created this amazing culture of giving in our community that only continues to grow in number, impact and scale. I know that my wife, Maria, and I – along with my brothers, sister, their spouses and the next generation of DeVos family members – are energized to continue to be part of this giving community moving forward for years to come and encourage all in the community to engage in their own ways. We all have something to give – whether it is your time, talent or treasure – to advance this great community even further.”

Areas of focus

Rich and Helen wanted Grand Rapids to be a place where people had what they needed and more to live, work, raise a family, realize their full potential, and thrive. If it was good for Grand Rapids, they supported it. They wanted Grand Rapids to have a vibrant downtown, wonderful education institutions, world-class health care, strong faith community, and a flourishing arts sector. A sampling of their giving in these areas is below.


The arts held a special spot in Helen’s heart and her love of music drew her and Rich to donate to the Grand Rapids Symphony for 53 consecutive years. They wanted to guarantee the future growth and success of the Grand Rapids Symphony would live on for future generations to enjoy. In addition to their financial support, Helen served as a board member for nearly 20 years. They also contributed to arts campaigns and programming at many other organizations, including St. Cecilia Music Center, Grand Rapids Christian High School’s DeVos Center for Arts and Worship, and the Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Economic development

During the early days of downtown Grand Rapids’ renewal in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rich and Helen were supportive of building a new performance hall in downtown Grand Rapids that could serve as the home for many arts institutions’ performances and bring people downtown for entertainment on a regular basis. As the next wave of planning and development occurred in the decades that followed, Rich and Helen helped support many other drivers of economic impact, including serving as the lead donors for DeVos Place Convention Center.


As part of downtown Grand Rapids’ revitalization efforts, Rich encouraged Grand Valley State University to expand beyond its sprawling Allendale campus to have a downtown presence. Through partnerships and bringing people together, Rich and Helen were key drivers in advancing Grand Valley State University and helping it establish a downtown campus that is now a hub for the school. They also were instrumental in the creation of the William Seidman Center and Cook-DeVos Center for Health Science. In addition, they were strong supporters of numerous other educational institutions, including Hope College, Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College, and Grand Rapids Christian Schools locally.


Rich and Helen were raised in families where faith was a priority. It continued to be a priority in their marriage and throughout their lives. From the time they were married, Rich and Helen tithed, setting aside 10 percent of their money for the church. When they achieved success where they were able to do more, they did. Throughout their lives, they worked to steer 50% of their giving to faith-based causes. Some examples of faith-based organizations they supported include LaGrave Christian Reformed Church, the Christian Reformed Church, and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative.

Health care

Rich served as chairman of the board at Butterworth Hospital during the merger of Blodgett and Butterworth hospitals into a nationally recognized Spectrum Health (now Corewell Health). The couple lent their name and leadership to major fundraising projects, including the Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

The final newly-initiated gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation was a $20 million contribution to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital creating a permanent endowment for the Child and Family Life Team. This gift was given in February 2024 as part of the DeVos Family’s $50 million gift to pediatric health care in the region. The donation will support nearly 40 certified professionals, including child life specialists and assistants, music and art therapists, and teachers to ensure that children and families have many of the comforts of home and receive special support while in the hospital.