Dick and Betsy DeVos: helping to reshape Grand Rapids and America’s institutions

Few people have been as influential on the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as Dick DeVos. Dick DeVos is credited with helping transform the Grand Rapid skyline as well as making the Grand Rapids airport a major airline hub in the Midwestern United States. Through their donations to the GOP and contributions to various philanthropies, Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have reformed state education and labor laws and promoted health services and education in Michigan and throughout the United States.


In 1991, Dick DeVos was on track to become CEO of Amway Corporation. During this time, Grand Rapids was considering building a sports and convention center north of downtown Grand Rapids. Seeing what similar arenas had done to downtown Detroit, DeVos opposed the idea and began to lobby against it. DeVos and other business leaders that opposed the arena formed a group called Grand Action. Since its formation, Grand Action is credited with transforming the Grand Rapids Skyline, by driving construction of buildings such as The DeVos Place Convention Center and the Grand Rapids City Market. Dick DeVos also played a key role in expanding the Gerald Ford International Airport, making Grand Rapids a major airline hub in the Midwest.


The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has donated $138.7 million dollars to promote arts and culture, leadership programs, and health services, including a $12.5 million-dollar donation toward the foundation of a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids. One of their main passions is in providing educational opportunities to underprivileged families. Their efforts have included scholarships, promotion of charter schools in western Michigan, and the creation of an aviation charter high school at the Grand Rapids airport.


Dick and Betsy DeVos are major contributors to the GOP and have been involved in the reform of state education and labor laws. However, not all of their political ideas have been immediately successful. In 2000 their proposed amendment to create vouchers for students to attend private schools was rejected by voters. The duo persevered and played a role in the adoption of tax vouchers in other parts of the country, including Washington D.C.


Recently, Dick and Betsy DeVos have taken on major roles in Washington D.C. Dick’s involvement in the Grand Rapids airport development and his interest in aviation helped him get appointed to the FAA’s Management Advisory Council in 2017, where he will advise on policy, spending, and planning. The DeVos family’s efforts in education helped Betsy achieve the position of the United States Secretary of Education in 2017.


Beginning by reshaping Grand Rapids, Dick and Betsy DeVos have helped achieve reform of health services, labor laws, and education in Michigan. Through their continued efforts, the two are now serving roles in federal government positions, where they will continue to influence and change laws and policies on a national level.


To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

Betsy DeVos Sets Stage for Changes at Department of Education

There is very little that you can say about the 2016 Presidential Election that hasn’t been said already. Chief among those statements has been the stance echoed by newly elected Donald Trump: change is coming and the swamp will be drained. No matter where you stand on President Trump’s controversial statements, his duty to elect figures to head major departments of government has gone on largely as expected. That is, except, for the role of Secretary of Education. When President Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to the position, the announcement was met by a resounding question mark. Who was Betsy DeVos? How did this political outsider get into such a prominent post in Washington? As it turns out, President Trump saw in Betsy DeVos something that others had been seeing for decades: that she was a political fighter ready to make her mark.


Betsy DeVos was born and raised in Holland, MI. In her small community of largely Dutch lineage, DeVos would begin to form into the person that she is today. DeVos would attend Calvin College and here she would hone in on her political savvy, becoming a prominent Republican on campus. DeVos’ primary claim to fame has been her belief in charter schools and her push for school-choice across the nation. Now, DeVos is put into a position where she can actually render a great change to the nation at large in this particular area.


If you ran into Betsy DeVos on the street, you would assume that she was just another polite person. However, beyond her polite demeanor is the heart of a bulldog. DeVos has gained a reputation behind the scenes as someone who is ready and willing to fight for what she believes in — even if it goes against what the Republican party may desire. In that way, DeVos has garnered respect from both sides of the aisle. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, said of DeVos; “There is a real tendency to underestimate her. SHe comes across as personable, plain-spoken, but she is dangerous.”


As the Secretary of education, Betsy DeVos will be charged with stumping for policies she believes in while simultaneously handling her relationship the GOP with grace and tact. Mike Cox, a former state attorney general, says, “In Michigan politics, she instilled fear in a lot of people and it’s not just because she’s a billionaire.” Cox only seems to be echoing what the rest of Washington is quickly learning, that Betsy DeVos is someone to be reckoned with.


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DeVoses Devoted to Grand Rapids

Dedicated to improving the cultural and educational aspects of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dick and Betty Devos have devoted more than $138.7 million dollars to nonprofit organizations and civic groups over the last 25 years. Leadership programs, health and human services, churches, arts and culture programs, and educational advocacy groups have all been recipients of their generous donations.


Dick was the CEO of Amway, his family’s business, from 1993 to 2002. During this time, he developed a significant clout among business associates in the Grand Rapids area allowing his charitable nature combined with his business sense to pave the way for cultural and educational facilities such as the DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place Convention Center and the medical school at Michigan State University.


As a life-long pilot licensed to fly single engine planes and helicopters, Dick’s charitable giving also contributed to the aspect of flight. Along with Betty, he founded a charter school at the airport in Grand Rapids aimed at teaching flight while focusing heavily on engineering, science and math. In addition to an educational institution, Dick was instrumental in helping to expand the services and facility of the actual airport. He helped secure Southwest Airlines as a carrier offering flights out of the Grand Rapids airport, which led to lower airfares for passengers and increased the number of passengers using the airport each year. In fact, Southwest Airlines added additional routes based on the passenger growth after opening in Grand Rapids.


Due to his aviation background and commitment to expanding aviation’s breadth, Dick was appointed to serve on a civilian advisory board for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in September 2017. The board, which consists of 13 members each serving a three-year term, provides advice and feedback for the FAA in terms of strategic planning, aviation policies and overall spending for the organization.


While her husband has been committed to the aviation field and educational opportunities within it, Betty has continued to champion educational reform as well. While voters in Michigan failed to pass legislation that would create private school vouchers funded by tax payers, her efforts in other locations across the country have resulted in 24 states providing children with this opportunity. In recognition of her work in education, she was nominated as Secretary of Education by President Donald Trump in 2016.


To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

Philanthropy And Investing Become The Focus For Dick DeVos

Born Richard DeVos Jr. but better known as Dick DeVos the success achieved by this entrepreneur and philanthropist has impressed me for many years after the billionaire embarked upon a series of high-profile public office postings. The aspects of the life of Dick DeVos which have impressed me the most include his bold decision in 1989 to leave the comfort of the family business of the AmWay group to establish his own company, The Windquest Group, The New Netherlands Institute reports; Dick had already proven himself to observers of the AmWay Group by ensuring his first appointment to an executive level position in 1984 established the overseas sales department as the leading producer of revenue for the company founded by his father.


On a personal level, I believe Dick DeVos has achieved much more than just turning around the AmWay Group and making it the sales juggernaut it remains in the 21st-century; in my opinion, Dick DeVos has been looking for the best way of helping families across Michigan and the U.S. in bringing education into the 21st-century from its current roots in the last decades of the 20th-century. At the height of his work to develop the AmWay Group into one of the leading sales companies in the world, Dick DeVos was also running a campaign for Governor of Michigan and was elected to the Michigan Board of Public School Education. The reform of education has been an impressive part of the life of Dick DeVos and his wife, Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos; I have always valued the financial contributions made by Dick DeVos to the Potter’s House Christian School of Grand Rapids, Michigan which has continued across a number of decades to aid low-income families in achieving a top education for their children.


In an interview with Philanthropy Roundtable conducted by Betsy DeVos, the conversation turned to Dick DeVos in a way which shows the impressive way the pair have become integral to the growth of the education reform movement. In a bid to bring his own love of flying and aviation to students who had begun expressing an interest in this area of education, Dick DeVos established the West Michigan Aviation Academy charter school to act as a standard-bearer for the use of charter schools as an impressive option for states across the U.S.


To learn more, visit http://dickdevos.com/news/.