When a proposal was made to construct a multi-purpose convention center just north of Grand Rapids in 1991, Dick DeVos immediately started lobbying against the proposal. He felt that building a convention center outside of the Grand Rapids central business district would hinder the city’s economic development. This started Grand Action, which is a group of business leaders who were major contributors to the construction of several important buildings in Grand Rapids, such as Michigan State University’s medical school, the DeVos Performance Hall, the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market, and the DeVos Place Convention Center.
Dick DeVos is married to Betsy DeVos. The two have been strong advocates for a number of policies and institutions, and they are also devoted to education reform. The couple share a common goal to help poor families give their children the same educational opportunities as students from wealthy families. Mrs. DeVos has successfully helped expand charter schools across the country. Because of the couple’s hard work, there are now 24 states and the District of Colombia that have vouchers available for students so that they can attend their families school of choice.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation donated more than $138.7 million to arts and culture, health and human services, leadership programs, churches, education reform policies, and scholarships for private schools. In addition, the couple helped the Spectrum Health System build a children’s hospital in 2006. Mr. and Mrs. DeVos donated $12.5 million to help with the construction of the children’s hospital, which was named after Mr. DeVos’ mother. The couple’s donation and effort to help the Spectrum Health System build a children’s hospital has made it possible for families to stay close to home when their children need treatment. Before the construction of the children’s hospital, families would have to drive to Ann Arbor or Chicago.
Mr. DeVos is also the founder of the West Michigan Aviation Academy. This is a charter school that started out with only 80 students and has grown to have more than 600 students from seven counties across Michigan. The West Michigan Aviation Academy prepares students for careers in the aviation industry. The school is free to attend like other charter and public schools. It is funded from a per-student allowance of an estimated $7,500. However, Dick and Betsy DeVos contributed more than $7 million to the West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2014, which includes a $3 million loan at no interest.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.