For many years now, Dick and Betsy DeVos have made their hometown in Grand Rapids, MI. Dick has really established himself as a force to be reckoned with. However, they weren’t always quite as well-known. In 1991, Dick DeVos was well on his way to becoming the CEO of Amway, the worldwide company that his father helped to start. They probably would have stayed somewhat obscure, except it was during that year there was a plan to build a sports arena in a suburb of Grand Rapids. Dick DeVos knew that it would kill his hometown economy, so he got on the phones and pulled some strings. He knew that construction of the Silverdome in Pontiac and the Palace at Auburn Hills were detrimental to Detroit’s economy, and he didn’t want to see the same thing happen in Grand Rapids. With a bit of persistence, DeVos was able to stop the idea from coming to fruition.
Dick DeVos’ campaign to prevent this detrimental economic decision from occurring in Grand Rapids also led to the formation of Grand Action, which consists of a consortium of community leaders that have been instrumental in developing a number of important Grand Rapids landmarks. These would include the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market, the DeVos Performance Hall and the medical school affiliated with Michigan State University.
Of course, the DeVos family is best known for supporting a number of Republican causes. These would include Betsy’s fight for school choice and Dick’s campaign to turn Michigan from one of the biggest union states in the country to a right-to-work state in 2012. However, they have built just as much of a legacy for their philanthropic efforts as well.
The DeVos family has actually given away about $139 million from 1989 to 2015 to leadership programs, health and human services, arts and culture, churches, scholarships for private schools and policy changes for the promotion of education reform. The DeVos family contributed the top donation of $12.5 million towards the construction of a children’s hospital within the Spectrum Health System that was constructed in 2006 and was named after the late Helen DeVos, the family matriarch of the DeVos family.
Why do Dick and Betsy DeVos place such priority on education reform? For one simple reason: they want to see all children, whether they are from poor or middle-class backgrounds or whatever, to have the same opportunities their children have. Who knows? The individual who discovers the cure for cancer or the first man on Mars or the next great philanthropist just might come from a poor or middle-class background just because of the efforts of the DeVos family.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.