Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation

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The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation is a conservative foundation and grantmaking body formed in 1970. It is based in Grand Rapids, MI.[1] It has assets worth over $96 million as of the end of 2011.[2]

Richard DeVos is co-founder of Amway and served as the finance chair of the Republican National Committee.[3] Helen DeVos is a Christian Republican activist who gives via the foundation and individually to heavy hitters in the Republican Party like George W. Bush and Rick Santorum.[4] In 2011, Richard DeVos donated $250,000 to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's recall campaign.[5] The foundation funds pro-education privatization, Christian, and politically conservative groups on anti-union and pro-school voucher issues. In 2011 alone, the foundation gave $3 million to Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group created and funded by the Koch Brothers, in addition to $2.5 million to DonorsTrust from 2009 to 2010.[4]

Ties to DonorsTrust, a Koch Conduit

DonorsTrust is considered a "donor-advised fund," which means that it divides its funds into separate accounts for individual donors, who then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. Funds like DonorsTrust are not uncommon in the non-profit sector, but they do cloak the identity of the original donors because the funds are typically distributed in the name of DonorsTrust rather than the original donors.[6] Very little was known about DonorsTrust until late 2012 and early 2013, when the Guardian and others published extensive reports on what Mother Jones called "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement."[7][8]

DonorsTrust Funding

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation contributed $2,500,000 to DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2009 and 2011.

A report by the Center for Public Integrity exposes a number of DonorsTrust funders, many of which have ties to the Koch brothers. One of the most prominent funders is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Charles Koch-run organization and one of the group's largest known contributors, having donated nearly $9 million from 2005 to 2012. Other contributors known to have donated at least $1 million to DonorsTrust include the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation.[9]

Since its inception in 1999, DonorsTrust has been used by conservative foundations and individuals to discretely funnel nearly $400 million to like-minded think tanks and media outlets.[9] According to the organization's tax documents, in 2011, DonorsTrust contributed a total of $86 million to conservative organizations. Many recipients had ties to the State Policy Network (SPN), a wide collection of conservative state-based think tanks and media organizations that focus on shaping public policy and opinion. In 2013, the Center for Media and Democracy released a special report on SPN. Those who received DonorsTrust funding included media outlets such as the Franklin Center and the Lucy Burns Institute, as well as think tanks such as SPN itself, the Heartland Institute, Illinois Policy Institute, Independence Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, South Carolina Policy Council, American Legislative Exchange Council, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and the Cascade Policy Institute.[10]

Other Funding Recipients

Political Giving

  • Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group backed by the Koch Brothers received $3 million in 2011 alone.
  • Heritage Foundation, a leader in the right wing movement, has received $6 million from 2009-2011
  • American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, has been given $515,000 from 2009-2011
  • DonorsTrust received $2.5 million from 2009-2010
  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a group seeking to inspire college students to embrace free market principles, received $4 million from 2009 to 2011.
  • Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, a private non-profit in charge of preserving Mount Vernon, received $2.5 million from 2010 to 2011.
  • National Constitution Center, a history organization seeking to expand Constitutional learning, received $5.42 million from 2009 to 2011.
  • Media Research Center, a conservative content analysis organization, received $1.1 million from 2009 to 2011.
  • Young America's Foundation, a conservative youth organization, received $6 million from 2009 to 2011
  • FreedomWorks, a group closely connected with the Tea Party movement, has been given $600,000 from 2009 to 2011.[11][12]

Heritage Foundation's "DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society"

In 2004, the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank, was given a grant from the foundation, and created the DeVos Center for Religion and Society. According to the Center's website:

"The Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society examines the role that religion, family, and community plan in society and public policy. America's Founders understood that family is part of the foundation of a free society, and that religious freedom is the first freedom and an important guarantor of a just society." [13]

The website adds:

"We seek to convey the indispensable role of family and religion in our American order and in our conservative philosophy." [14]

Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon Fellow at the Center for Religion and Civil Society, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News in May 2013 that claimed same-sex marriage, if accepted nationwide, would be "based on a lie." Anderson continued his piece by saying:

"Their victory would leave marriage with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality. And if marriage has no form and serves no essential purpose, how would society protect the needs of children -- the prime victims of our nonmarital sexual culture -- without government growing more intrusive and more expensive."

The Center's research includes the impact of religion on social stability, cost of Medicaid, demographics of enlisted troops and officers in the U.S. military, the effects of labor unions, and family religious practice.[15]

Religious Giving

  • Alliance for Children Everywhere, which does Christian charity work, has received around $1.2 million from 2009-2011
  • Prison Fellowship Ministries, founded by former Watergate criminal Chuck Colson, has received millions in recent years
  • Haggai Institute, a group dedicated to Christian missionary work, received $1.25 million between 2009 and 2011.
  • Holland Home, a Christian senior services home, received $1.7 million between 2009 and 2011.
  • LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, located in Grand Rapids, received $687,050 between 2009 and 2011.
  • Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, a Christian missionary group, received $1.5 million between 2009 and 2011.
  • Madison Square Christian Reformed Church received almost $1.4 million between 2009 and 2011
  • Partners Worldwide received just over $1.8 million from 2009 to 2011
  • Western Theological Seminary received just over $1.3 million from 2009 to 2011
  • Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group that promotes repressive roles for women in addition to anti-abortion and anti-gay rights stances, has received $1.3 million between 2009-2011.[4]

Educational Giving

  • The Scripps Research Institute (Florida)[16]
  • The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation was in part responsible for funding the creation of the Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida, giving a grant of $225,000 in 2011.[17]
  • Grand Rapids Christian School Association received $5.6 million from 2009 to 2011
  • Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary combine have received around $8.5 million from 2009 to 2011
  • Grand Valley State University has received $5 million from 2009-2011
  • Norwood University has received $6 million from 2009-2011
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine received $4.5 million between 2009 and 2011.
  • The Potter's House, a Christian school in Grand Rapids, received $1.1 million from 2009 to 2011
  • Rehoboth Christian School Association received just over $3.4 million from 2009 to 2011
  • Trinity Christian College received just over $3.7 million from 2010 to 2011.
  • Zuni Christian Mission School received just over $2.2 million from 2009 to 2011.

Other Organizations Funded

Articles and Resources

External Resources

References

  1. Guidestar, Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, non-profit profile summary, accessed June 2013.
  2. Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, 2011 Form 990, foundation's annual Internal Revenue Service filing, November 9, 2012.
  3. Media Transparency, Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, foundation profile, archived by the WayBack Machine July 25, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Jeff Smith, Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy, Foundation Profile: the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, foundation profile on organizational website, accessed February 18, 2013.
  5. Nate Reens, $13 million in support for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, MLive Media Group, May 1, 2012.
  6. Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters' Guide to the "State Policy Network" -- the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States, PRWatch.org, April 4, 2013.
  7. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  8. Suzanne Goldenberg, "Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks," The Guardian, February 14, 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Paul Abowd, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, Center for Public Integrity, February 14, 2013.
  10. Donors Trust, GuideStar.org, IRS form 990, 2011.
  11. Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, [http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org//990pf_pdf_archive/237/237066873/237066873_200912_990PF.pdf 2009 Form 990, organization's filing of Internal Revenue Services form, November 19, 2010.
  12. Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, 2011 Form 990, foundation's annual Internal Revenue Service filing, November 9, 2012.
  13. About the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society
  14. About the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society
  15. Heritage Foundation, About the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, organizational website, accessed June 2013.
  16. Scripps College, Richard and Helen DeVos Gift Kicks Off Drive to Endow Scripps Florida Graduate Program, college website, accessed June 2013.
  17. Bridge Project, FUNDER: Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, organizational website funder profile, accessed June 2013.
  18. National Constitution Center, Meet Our Donors: Founding Donors, organizational website, archived by the WayBack Machine on October 15, 2007.