Dick DeVos stood tall for his home community of Grand Rapid, Michigan when a plan to build a multi-purpose arena downtown was made public. The year was 1991 and DeVos was on track to become CEO of Amway Corp, a company owned by his family.
DeVos was worried the arena construction would bring similar consequences as a stadium and arena built to house professional sports teams in Detroit brought to that city. Dick DeVos sprang into action with his own efforts to nix the project.
DeVos partnered with other influential people in the area to form a group called Grand Action. The group went on to spearhead a number of notable constructions in the Grand Rapids area. They were also successful in their bid to stop the downtown sports complex from being built.
Grand Action was given credit for revitalizing the Grand Rapids skyline and helping the city to combat urban sprawl.
Dick is married to United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Betsy is also an heir to a vast family fortune and the couple has used their considerable resources to affect change on a number of issues and policies affecting their community. The couple has also used their status as megadonors for the GOP to influence major changes to labor and education laws.
One important topic for Betsy is the expansion of charter school programs in the state. Her efforts have been quite successful. Dick experienced similar success in 2012 when he was able to have legislation passed that converted Michigan from a state that favored organized labor to one that promoted a right to work philosophy. The main benefit of this legislation to workers is that union membership is no longer a requirement to work in the state.
Dick and Betsy have also been active at many philanthropical pursuits. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation donated more than $138 million dollars between the years 1989 and 2015. Programs benefitted by the DeVos Foundation include programs for art, churches, religion, and many others.
The couple was responsible for the lead donation of $12.5 million to build a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids. The entire project cost $106 million.
Dick has expressed pride regarding the hospital and says he is happy to know parents in the area will no longer have to travel long distances in search of medical care for the children.
Dick and Betsy DeVos are now increasing their efforts to affect the expansion of school choice programs on a national level.
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