About Causes Supported by Dick DeVos

Back in 1991, when a plan was introduced to build a multi-purpose arena just north of downtown Grand Rapids, Dick DeVos quickly began lobbying against it. His main worry was that building a convention center at that location would have a negative impact on downtown Grand Rapids, just like the Palace of Auburn Hills and Pontiac Silverdome were bad for Detroit after the Pistons and Lions left the city over forty years ago.

 

DeVos, who served as CEO of Amway from 1993 to 2002, believed that the people of Grand Rapids should learn from what happened in Detroit and not make the same mistakes. His campaigning against building a sports facility outside downtown led to the formation of a group of business leaders called Grand Action. They were the main driving forces behind building the Michigan State University’s medical school, the DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place Convention Center and Grand Rapids City Market. All of these places are believed to have changed the way the Grand Rapids skyline looks like, especially at a time when the city was trying to prevent suburban sprawl.

 

Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have spent a large portion of their lives trying to influence policies and institutions. They’re mega donors to the GOP and their influence has resulted in changing laws that affect education and labor. While Dick and Betsy DeVos are known for supporting conservative and Republican causes, they’ve also supported various other charitable endeavors, both in the Grand Rapids area and around the nation.

 

From 1989 to 2015, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has been responsible for providing more than $138 million to programs that promote efficient health and human services, arts and culture, churches, leadership programs and policy initiatives related to education reform.

 

The fact that Betsy DeVos is a strong advocate of school choice is one of the reasons why President Trump appointed her as Secretary of Education. She was confirmed after some debate happened in the U.S. Senate regarding the impact that school choice measures have on the nation’s traditional public educational systems.

 

Dick DeVos is well known for starting the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a unique public high school located in western Michigan that opened its doors in 2010. The nonprofit charter school has grown significantly over the years. It hosted 80 students in its first year and operated out of a rundown office building at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The school now has vastly improved facilities and is attended by 600 students from all over the world.

 

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