Dick DeVos has an excellent sense of history.
He looked toward Detroit and saw the damage done to the great city’s center when such ambitious public space projects as the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Pontiac Silverdome got pulled to the suburbs.
He was determined to see that the same thing didn’t happen in his beloved Grand Rapids. When a new convention and sports facility was slated for real estate development outside of the city’s downtown, he saw the possibility of Detroit happening all over again. So he got on the phone.
He spearheaded the group of local business and civic leaders into Grand Action. The new group exerted their collective muscle to get the complex built downtown, and that was just the start.
Grand Action got a lot done in short order. It took collective action that led to the construction of such ambitious downtown projects as DeVos Place Convention Center, Andel Arena, Grand Rapids City Market, and Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine, among many others that raised the city’s profile, boosted its national reputation and granted it a new sense of dynamism.
This is only one facet of the commitment Dick and Betsy DeVos have shown for their entire working lives. For instance, Betsy DeVos became such a symbol of educational excellence for all children that it resulted in her appointment as the current Secretary of Education.
That reputation was built, in part, on the DeVos’s founding of the tuition-free West Michigan Aviation Academy. The innovative charter school reflects Dick Devos’s passion for flying and Betsy DeVos’s commitment to the delivery of a quality education for all.
The couple is also well known for their advocacy of arts and culture, healthcare and other charitable and civic causes of critical importance to the region and its people.
They don’t just lead the charge for positive change; they also fund it. Well beyond their founding of the innovative school, the couple also established their family foundation from which, to date, they’ve donated around $140 million to a variety of worthwhile causes.
One example, also in the area of quality education, is their start-up of the Education Freedom Fund. Today, it finances private school tuition for thousands of underprivileged students.
Dick DeVos’s push was instrumental in getting millions of dollars worth of improvements made to the city’s Gerald R. Ford International Airport and luring Southwest Airlines to expand air routes from Grand Rapids.
In recognition of his interest and accomplishments in commercial air travel, Dick DeVos has been appointed to the Management Advisory Council. This civic commission works to help set the strategic direction for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In this era of financial challenges to cities, it’s easy to see Grand Rapids Michigan and the surrounding region in an entirely different light if not for the dedication, civic leadership and financial generosity of Dick and Betsy DeVos.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.