Dick Devos: Businessman and Philanthropist
Dick DeVos takes action when he sees something happening that could be detrimental to his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. A public plan in 1991 to build a sports and convention center outside the city limits didn’t sit well with him. He saw the potential for it to devastate Grand Rapids the way Detroit had been devastated by the Pistons and Lions leaving the city in the 1970s for newly built arenas in the suburbs.
The lesson was not lost on DeVos, and Grand Action was formed. DeVos, working with other business leaders, was instrumental in the construction of an arena, a convention center, a city market, a performance hall and a hospital. These solidified the central business district and the enduring hub of Grand Rapids, and it did much to halt suburban sprawl.
Education reform has long been a defining interest of Dick and Betsy DeVos, and their mission was to ensure that poor children were afforded the same educational opportunities as their own children. They approached that goal in a practical way by melding their education advocacy and philanthropic giving.
The couple has long been an advocate of school vouchers and charter schools. Dick DeVos founded an aviation charter school at the Grand Rapids International Airport. When Michigan voters rejected a DeVos-sponsored amendment to create tax-funded vouchers for private schools, the DeVoses redirected their efforts to other areas of the United States. Almost half the States and the District of Columbia now offer some form of vouchers.
Betsy DeVos’ push for school choice and vouchers was one reason she was appointed U.S. Education Secretary by President Donald Trump. She was narrowly confirmed after vigorous debate.
Also high on Dick and Betsy DeVos’ list are causes related to health and human services. They were the top donor, giving $12.5 million, to construct a children’s hospital that is part of Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids. This hospital saves many families from having to make a trip to Chicago, Detroit or the Mayo Clinic for treatment.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has given away $138.7 million since 1989 to various philanthropic causes which include scholarships and policy initiatives for education reform.
Dick DeVos was recently appointed by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to the 13-member Management Advisory Council. The longtime pilot, former Amway CEO and son of Amway founder Richard DeVos will advise FAA senior management regarding policy, planning and regulatory matters.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.