The DeVos Family

A plan hatched itself in 1991, a plan that circled building a multi-purpose arena for sports and conventions just north of the downtown area.

At the time, Dick DeVos was on a trail to becoming CEO in Amway Corporation, which was owned by his family. He suddenly picked up the phone in 1991 and began to lobby against the idea of the new convention arena.

DeVos had a sinking feeling in his gut that the convention center might pose many problems for the downtown area of Grand Rapids. His thoughts were similar to the events that occurred when the Pontiac Silverdome was constructed.

Though really, his strict campaign against any new sports facility just outside of this central business district started a snowball effect with several of the other business owners in the area. They worked together to start a group known as Grand Action, and this group helped build the medical school for Michigan State University, the city market in Grand Rapids, the Van Andel Arena, and even the DeVos Place Convention Center.

Specifically, these destinations that were built essentially altered the skyline of Grand Rapids, which went strictly against the suburban trajectory of the city to help prevent clutter and sprawl.

Dick DeVos and his wife, Betsy, were heirs to two separate family fortunes. They have spent the majority of their adult lives walking around and attempting to change multiple institutions and policies. They have been mega-donors for the GOP, and they have created quite the bit of political influence for several years. This influence has even caused huge changes in several state laws that have effects on labor and education.

Specifically, Betsy DeVos has been pushing for charter schools, and simultaneously, Dick has been creating a law to convert the birthplace of organized labor from Michigan to another state without union membership requirements for employment.

Their influence has been extending past the conservative specific causes, which they have been best known to support.

Starting in the year 1989 up until 2015, the DeVos family and their foundation had reported to give away several millions of dollars to various arts and culture, leadership, churches, health and human service, and other programs to center specifically for scholarships to private schools and education reform worldwide.

The couple themselves gave up to $12 million in donation toward the construction of a children’s hospital within the Spectrum Health System with the inclination that it would be named after Mr. DeVos’ mother, which was the wife of the Amway co-founder.

The hospital is there to give families a chance to remain in their home without parents having to take time from their jobs to drive to the larger hospitals and clinics near the area. They can receive care without having to travel far, which is one reason why the DeVos family has made such large donations toward the cause.

Their largest initiative to date is the one of education reform. They have even founded a charter high school for aviation at the airport in Grand Rapids. Through Betsy’s education advocacy, they are trying to seek the same outcome for children who are from poorer families to have the same opportunities that their kids have been given.

Their efforts are trying to sway the public opinion to look more in a direction, but it hasn’t been successful. The voters in 2000 essentially rejected the constitutional amendment that was sponsored by the DeVos family. This amendment created vouchers for tax funds for certain various students to attend private schools. Just six years later, Mr. DeVos created quite the campaign for governor against his adversary.

Never once did the family give up their efforts. Instead, they took a shift in their outlook and began to advocate for private school vouchers to students in various portions of the country. In fact, 24 of the 50 states, along with D.C., have at least some form of private school vouchers. This momentum is set to give more choices to students and parents alike.

President Donald Trump has cited her school choice advocacy when appointing her as the U.S. Secretary of Education. She varies narrowly got in as the Senate had a heated debate about her impact on school systems and school programs.

Beside his wife, Dick DeVos has stood by her side in support for many years. He is the CEO of his own startup firm, which is a holding company for several various businesses in the area. He has even played a major role in turning point for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport among his other achievements. Learn more: