Dick DeVos

The community of Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan at large recognizes Dick DeVos as a driver of change. The former chief executive of Amway Group is an aviation enthusiast, philanthropist, and reformer.

In the early 90s, DeVos co-founded the Grand Action group. The group is renown for changing the face of downtown Grand Rapids. The Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall, the Grand Rapids City Market, and Michigan State University’s medical school are all credited to noble efforts of the group. The landmarks have influenced the town that Grand Rapids is today. Together with other members of the group, Dick DeVos oversaw these developments through donations and creation of institutions.

DeVos’ history with reform is traced back to his family. His father, Rich DeVos, was a major donor of Republican causes. Rich DeVos was the founder of the Amway Group. Dick and his wife, Betsy DeVos, have for decades sponsored policy and institution change causes. Betsy currently serves as Education Secretary. The DeVos family has for decades been big supporters of school-choice policies. The Dick and Betsy Family foundation has cumulatively donated millions of donors towards education, health, and leadership initiatives. Adoption of charter schools has marked most of their push for policy change.

Dick DeVos is a familiar face in Republican politics. In 2006, he unsuccessfully vied for the gubernatorial seat in Michigan. That aside, he has been on the frontline of policy change. The freedom-to-work state law of 2012 had a lot of backing from DeVos. The law removed union membership as a compulsory requirement for employment.

The love for aviation led Dick to form the West Michigan Aviation High School. The experienced pilot wanted to merge his love for education and aviation. He is licensed to fly single-engine planes. The school runs under a charter school model. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport, where the school is, has also been a beneficiary of Dick’s efforts. He was instrumental in attracting Southwest to offer direct flights from the Grand Rapids airport. The move meant opportunity for economic progress for the region.

Dick DeVos was appointed to the 13-member Management Advisory Council of the Federal Aviation Authority. His long career in management and impact in aviation in his hometown may have led to his appointment. He currently serves as president of the Windquest Group. The firm is a holding company with interests in technology, manufacturing, among other ventures.

 

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Dick DeVos opens up about huge philanthropic donations

Dick DeVos is perhaps best known as the son of Rich DeVos, the billionaire co-founder of Amway. But DeVos has also had a long and successful career in his own right. He’s headed various companies, including Amway, and has long been one of Michigan’s most prominent philanthropists.

 

Recently, DeVos made the decision to reveal all of the details of his charitable giving. This was largely prompted by his wife, Betsy DeVos, being vetted by Congress in her appointment to secretary of education. This has revealed a phenomenal amount of charitable giving, which totals well over $139 million and 2015 alone.

 

But the extent of DeVos’ community-based work extends far beyond the mere donation of money. For years, DeVos has been the driving force behind the revitalization of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the founder of Grand Action Group, an organization of West Michigan’s top business leaders, who came together in the late 80s to do something about the rapidly decaying urban center of Grand Rapids.

 

Grand Rapids was facing many of the stark problems that other large cities in Michigan and across the area of the Midwest known as the rust belt had been experiencing since at least the late ‘60s. Urban decay, blight, homelessness and widespread flight of businesses and residents had plagued the downtown Grand Rapids area for over 20 years. DeVos thought that something could be done.

 

He convoked the Grand Action Group and set about formulating a plan to transform the downtown Grand Rapids area into Michigan’s most sought-after place of urban residence. One of the first things that DeVos did was to begin attracting the nation’s top medical talent to the area known as the medical mile. This is an approximately mile-long stretch, located right in the heart of downtown, which has become one of the nation’s foremost centers of medical research and treatment for various diseases. The area includes many university branches as well as four separate major hospital campuses. The nautical mile has proven to be a billion-dollar economic engine and a major boon to the downtown Grand Rapids area.

 

Another major source of economic growth has been the DeVos Place Convention Center. This is a hundred-million-dollar convention center that has been in almost constant use since its opening in 2003.