The DeVos family has been a significant factor in the improvement and positive changes seen in Grand Rapids, Michigan today. The DeVos family has been a mainstay in the betterment of the city starting with Dick DeVos’s parents who are the founders of Amway. Today multiple charities, schools, hospitals, civic and cultural events and centers, to name a few, have benefitted from the efforts by Dick DeVos and family.
One of the noted turning points in the connection between Grand Rapids and Dick DeVos is the creation of the DeVos Place Convention Center, DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids City Market, the Van Andel Arena and the construction of Michigan State University Medical School. The drive to build the major civic and education centers came from Dick DeVos’s experience with downtown Detroit’s demise to the athletic centers after the Detroit Pistons and Lions left the city. DeVos considered the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills lessons well learned and not worth repeating for the city of Grand Rapids.
Dick and Betsy DeVos continue to be philanthropic, as heirs to a family fortune, with the creation of the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. The family reports giving $138.7 million to multiple organization and charities between 1998 to 2015. The family continued its charitable giving in 2006, giving $12.5 million to the construction of a $103 million children’s hospital named after the late Helen DeVos, Dick DeVos’s mother. Learn more: http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/12/01/michigan-parole-reform/94075318/
Education advocacy and reform have been the top priority for both Dick and Betsy DeVos. The desire for children from low-income families to have the same educational opportunities are what drive the DeVos’s continued work for educational reform. In 2000 an effort to create tax-funded vouchers was sponsored by Dick DeVos, to allow vouchers for students to attend private schools. The Michigan voters rejected the plan, but the DeVos’s continued to advocate for the reform in other states. The number of states and districts that are making vouchers for public schools available is continuing to increase due to the persistence of Dick and Betsy DeVos.
Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy, who is now the U.S. Secretary of Education, continue to be leaders in charitable giving and on improving education. Dick DeVos has founded an aviation charter high school at Grand Rapids International Airport. Betsy DeVos continues to be an advocate for school choice programs and the noted continued growth of these programs in the U.S.