Dick DeVos Is Change Leader in Grand Rapids

You can’t swing a bat in Grand Rapids, Mich., without hitting something named DeVos.

 

There’s good reason. Dick DeVos, who calls Grand Rapids his hometown, has been an influencer and creator in both the city and in western Michigan. Married to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the son of Amway co-founder Rich DeVos, Dick DeVos has been transforming Grand Rapids for decades.

 

His foray into civic change took a major step in 1991 when Grand Rapids government leaders discussed an idea of building a major sports and convention area north of the city. DeVos didn’t like the idea. He said he saw a significant negative impact on Detroit when the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills were built, causing the Lions and Pistons to leave downtown.

 

DeVos wanted more people to come to downtown Grand Rapids. He gathered business leaders together to form Grand Action, which promoted, lobbied for and ultimately pushed for the construction of several new structures downtown including the DeVos Performance Hall, the DeVos Place Convention Center, the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market and the medical school at Michigan State University.

 

The improvements have kept Grand Rapids an active, thriving city.

 

DeVos, along with his wife, expanded healthcare for children in the area by donating $12.5 million to build a children’s hospital in 2006. The hospital, in the Spectrum Health System, allows families to stay at home rather than take their children to Chicago, the Mayo Clinic, or some other larger hospital.

 

The couple also founded a the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a charter school, out of the Grand Rapids airport. Dick DeVos is a pilot and has always had an interest in the field and Betsy DeVos is a charter school advocate, which made for a successful charter school launch. The school has more than 600 students across seven counties.

 

Dick DeVos also worked to improve revenue and traffic coming to the airport. He lured AirTran’s chief executive to the airport for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to convince him to offer non-stop flights. Devos’ persuasion worked. When Southwest bought AirTran, the businessman then worked to convince the company to keep its current non-stop flights. He didn’t stop there. DeVos told Southwest executives they should expand direct flights in and out of Grand Rapids.

 

Southwest added direct flights to Baltimore, Denver, Orlando and St. Louis in 2013.

 

DeVos will now have more influence over the nation’s aviation. He was tapped by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao last September to be on the Management Advisory Council. The 13-member council is a volunteer group that advises Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials on topics like spending, long-range planning, regulation and policy.

 

To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

Dick DeVos’ Charitable Work

Dick DeVos is the eldest son of Richard DeVos, the co-founder of Amway Corporation. DeVos began his career in 1974 at the Amway Corporation, where he held various positions in different departments. In 1984, DeVos made his way up to the post of the company’s vice president. He would oversee the operations of the company in 18 different countries. In 1991, DeVos was appointed to manage his family’s franchise, the National Basket Associations Orlando Magic Basketball franchise. In 1993, DeVos succeeded his father as Amway Corporation’s president. Under his tenure, DeVos initiated the restructuring of Amway Corporation in 2000. In the fall of 2006, DeVos entered politics as Michigan’s gubernatorial aspirant on the Republican ticket.

 

Political influence of Dick DeVos

 

Dick DeVos’ significant political influence has attracted a lot of attention and criticism. His charitable contribution adds up to $139 million. DeVos donated over $11.6 million to charity work in 2015 alone. A new report states that charitable contribution has doubled over the last five years. DeVos’ father is the head of a high-profile family dynasty. He has been an influential player in the Republican politics for decades. The family ranks 24th on the list of top givers in the United States. In 2015, the family gave out $104 million towards charitable work. Furthermore, the lifetime contribution of the DeVos’ family stands at $1.33 billion, which represents a quarter of its estimated $5.2billion.

 

Among the West Michigan’s, wealth is measured on how much you give but not according to one’s lifestyle. As a result, Dick DeVos’ family has donated over $1.2 billion in its lifetime. The family features on Forbes’ list of wealthiest families due to its charitable contribution.

 

Education is a priority for Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy. In 2015, about 26 percent of their charitable donation went to educational initiatives. The couple allotted over $3million to educational projects. Besides, their foundation donated $357,000 to groups that supported education improvement. Their spending demonstrates their priority in restructuring the education sector. In an interview with MLive and The Grand Rapids Press, Dick DeVos said that the then charitable system could not fulfill the American dream. The next biggest focus of the family is to transform the culture and arts industry. In fact, the couple has donated $22 million towards the launch of Culture and Arts Management at the University of Maryland. Dick DeVos is married to Elizabeth (Bestie) Prince, a daughter of Edgar Prince. In 2017 under Trump’s administration, Bestie was appointed as the secretary of education.

 

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