A plan was being hatched in 1991 in Grand Rapids to build a convention and multi-purpose sports arena in the northern area of downtown. During that time, Dick Devos who was on his way to his family’s Amway Corporation decided to lobby against the idea. He was worried that the construction of a convention center in downtown Grand Rapids would be detrimental like the construction of the palace of Auburn Hills and the Pontiac Silverdome when the Pistons and the Lions left respectively during the 1970s.
Devos’ crusade against the aforementioned facility resulted to the organization of Grand Action that is composed of business leaders who supported the building of the Michigan State University’s medical school, the Grand Rapids City Market, the DeVos Performance Hall, the DeVos Place Convention Center, and the Van Andel Arena.
Being heirs to their families’ fortunes, Betsy and Dick DeVos spent majority of their adult lives in trying to transform policies and institutions. Being mega-donors for the GOP, their political clout have influenced changes in the laws of the state that affects labor and education.
For her part, Betsy Devos lobbied effectively for charter schools’ expansion, whereas Dick DeVos instigated the 2012 law that changed Michigan to a right-to-work state from being the birthplace of organized labor when membership with unions is no longer a pre-requisite of being employed.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation have reportedly given $138.7 million to scholarships for private schools, policy initiatives that are focused on education, human and health services, churches, culture and arts, and leadership programs starting in 1989 to 2015.
In 2006 in Grand Rapids, the couple made a prominent donation that amounts to $12.5 million in the building of a $103 million worth hospital for children within the Spectrum Health System that was named Helen DeVos, after dick’s mother and wife of Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway.
The presence of the children’s hospital, according to Dick DeVos has taken the stress off for families to travel and for parents to take time off work to drive to Chicago, Ann Arbor, Mayo (Clinic) or to whatever place to receive health care.
Improvement in education is one of the major initiatives of the DeVos’, which is why Dick DeVos established a flight charter high school on the International Airport of Grand Rapids. In agreement, Betsy DeVos stated that her husband’s and her philanthropy and advocacy have always been on the same footing that searches for similar results: that kids who come from needy families will be given the same opportunities that their own children had.
The philosophies of the DeVos have not always been able to convince the public when in 2000 a DeVos subsidized legal amendment to generate tax-funded vouchers so students can enter private schools has been rejected. And after six years, Dick DeVos lost his campaign for office as governor to current governor Jennifer Granholm.
Being naturally persistent, the DeVos didn’t give up, and they found a way to have the vouchers for private schools in other states. And because of Betsy DeVos‘ choice of school advocacy for President Donald Trump to appoint her as the U.S. Secretary of Education.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.