Dick and Betsy DeVos have always been devoted to the people of their native Grand Rapids, Michigan. In fact, the majority of their adult lives have been spent making changes to policies and institutions that will better the lives of citizens in Grand Rapids. The power couple is also credited with using the fortunes they inherited and the political influence they attained to make significant changes to state laws governing labor and education in Michigan.
Betsy has been a longtime champion of the right of parents to choose where their children are educated. The charter school system and availability of vouchers for students to attend the school of their choice have increased greatly due to the efforts of Mrs. DeVos.
Dick DeVos played an integral role in a 2012 law that effectively converted Michigan from a state dominated by organized labor practices to a right to work state. Workers in the state no longer have to pay dues or join a union to gain access to employment.
But Dick and Betsy DeVos have made an impact in more ways than law and politics.
The foundation named in the couple’s honor gave away nearly $140 million from its inception in 1989 to 2015. The many donations by the foundation targets programs promoting arts and culture, youth leadership, health services, religion, and many more.
The couple also was responsible for the lead donation for a children’s hospital built in Grand Rapids at a cost of $103 million. The DeVos contributed $12.5 million dollars to the project and the hospital was named after Helen DeVos, Dick’s mother.
Dick DeVos is a member of the hospital’s board of directors and says he is proud of what the hospital represents to parents in Grand Rapids. Dick explains that before the hospital in Grand Rapids was constructed, parents in the city would have to miss work in order to drive their children to hospitals in Ann Arbor or Chicago.
Dick also shares his wife’s passion for education. He founded a charter high school at the Grand Rapids International Airport that focuses on aviation.
Betsy explains it is the wish of her and her husband that children from poor families be afforded the educational opportunities as children from affluent families.
There are many families in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area who are thankful for both the DeVos’ stance on education and the efforts the couple has made at making their dream a reality for children in their hometown.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.
Most people know the DeVos name from Rich DeVos, owner and co-founder of Amway. The arena brand has done well over the past 40 years, bringing in record numbers of sales when his son Dick DeVos was President and CEO in the late 1990s. Since then, DeVos has moved on to philanthropy and started his own private equity firm known as the Windquest Group. The new firm helps companies that want to make the world a better place, including organizations like Boxed Water.
In addition, DeVos has been working with a number of airlines and airports over the past two decades in conjunction with his partnership to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids is DeVos’ hometown, and it’s the place where he has spent the most time planning the perfect city with business leaders. He has built several areas of the downtown sector to be more inviting and entertaining. With areas like the DeVos Place Convention Center and DeVos Performance Hall bringing in new forms of entertainment, businesses are flourishing in the downtown district.
This all goes along with DeVos’ early plans to create a better city that was rapidly growing into the 21st century with more revenue for business owners. He started to work with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in early 2000. He wanted to help the CEO change the strategy and revive stagnant sales. He started with a phone call to the CEO of Air Tran Airways. He asked the CEO if he would consider opening up four new destinations at the Grand Rapids location.
The strategy was simple. DeVos wanted to attract more business travelers to the area, which is why he built the DeVos Place Convention Center first. With that in mind, he was able to get the destinations added to the airport. This included St. Louis, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Denver. These were cities where business travelers frequented. Ticket sales immediately rose, and over the past 20 years, they have continued to rise, leading to an airport expansion in 2018.
DeVos knows all about difficult budgets and technology upgrades. The cost to expand the Gerald R. Ford International Airport was $45 million. He has been able to work with the FAA to show them how to make changes and fund the right budgets to increase technology and comfort across the country.
It will be interesting to see what DeVos does with his newfound political circle in Washington. He already joins his wife, the new US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, on Capitol Hill. He has always been a huge supporter of education, so it’s no surprise that he also has co-founded his own pilot training school on the Gerald R. Ford International Airport grounds.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.