Dick Devos – article recap

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Michigan businessman and philanthropist Dick DeVos was recently named to the Federal Aviation Administration’s volunteer advisory board. He joins the other 12 board members who help guide FAA planing and policy. The move isn’t surprising for this longtime pilot. DeVos has been active in his efforts to shape public policy for many years.


In 1991, a proposal to build a new convention center and sports facility north of the downtown area of Grand Rapids drew DeVos’ opposition. He fought to defeat the proposal to shift these resources away from the downtown district. DeVos based his opposition on the negative consequences that similar moves had triggered in nearby Detroit, Michigan.


Dick DeVos is the heir to a family fortune grounded in the Amway multi-level marketing giant. He served as Amway’s chief executive officer from 1993 until 2003. However, DeVos and his wife Betsy are better known for their activism supporting the Republican Party and conservative values. Betsy DeVos was appointed to be Secretary of Education by Donald Trump. She is an outspoken advocate of charter schools and the use of school vouchers to promote private education efforts.


For his part, DeVos has worked on urban development issues in Grad Rapids for more than two decades. In the 1990s he helped start Grand Action, an organization of leading business figures in the city. His efforts have done a lot to reshape the Grand Rapids skyline and revitalize the city. The projects he has helped bring to fruition include DeVos Place Convention Center, DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids City Market, Van Andel Sports Arena and the Michigan State Medical School.


Dick and Betsy DeVos have put a lot of money into philanthropic causes. Beginning in 1985, their Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has donated $138.7 million to various endeavors as of 2015. Their money has helped funded health and human services projects, churches, arts projects and a host of other initiatives. The most noteworthy was a $12.5 million gift that helped build a $103 million children’s hospital.


The DeVos combined their interests in aviation and education in 2010 by starting the West Michigan Aviation Academy. This is a charter school that is situated at the Grand Rapids airport. DeVos has also been influential in Michigan politics. He was unsuccessful in getting an amendment to the state constitution passed to authorize taxpayer funding of school voucher programs. On the other hand, he played a key role in making Michigan a “right-to-work” state.


Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.