In 1991, Dick DeVos was on his way to becoming the CEO in his family’s Amway Corp. when he received a phone call regarding a plan to build a multi-purpose sports and convention arena in Grand Rapids.
He lobbied against the idea as he believed it to be detrimental to the city of Grand Rapids. He associated the construction plan to the disaster that happened in 1970. It was unfortunate for the people of Detroit when the Palace of Auburn Hills and Pontiac Silverdome was built yet the Lions and Pistons left the city.
Dick DeVos, alongside his wife Betsy DeVos, managed campaigns against the construction of the sports facility. As a result, a number of business leaders had formed an alliance that led to the establishment of Grand Action.
The members of Grand Action were the driving force behind the construction of a number of structures within the city including 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.
The campaign against the construction of the multi-purpose sports and convention arena was one of the many attempts of both Dick and Betsy DeVos to changed the policies and institutions.
Dick and Betsy DeVos were also GOP mega-donors. Truly, their influence in the political world has brought about major changes in various state laws that affected labor and education. Dick DeVos is one of the new members of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Management Advisory Council. Betsy DeVos, on the other hand, is the current United States Secretary of Education.
In addition, their foundation – The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation – was reported to donate a total of $138.7 million to a number of organizations including various leadership programs, health and human services, the arts and culture, churches, and of course, policy initiatives which are centered on educational reform as well as scholarships for private schools.
Dick DeVos has always been concerned with the educational reform of the country. Education is one of his biggest initiatives. His wife, the current United States Secretary of Education, shares that their philanthropies are on similar tracks. They both seek out the same outcome of having children from poor families across the country have the same opportunity that their kids have.
In 2000, the DeVos-sponsored constitutional amendment has been rejected by the voters to create tax-funded vouchers for students to have access to private schools. Despite this, Dick and Betsy DeVos’ momentum on their advocacies continues.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.