Dick DeVos has played a major role in Grand Rapid’s downtown economic development as a co-chair of the Grand Action committee, a role that he recently retired from to make way for the next generation of civic leaders. His philanthropy and leadership helped to change the Grand Rapids’ skyline and staunch suburban sprawl, bringing the Van Andel Arena and the DeVos Place Convention Center to downtown Grand Rapids. DeVos’s leadership also helped bring a sculpture garden, a newly renovated Civic Theater, a museum and more, making Grand Rapids a destination city for tourists.
Besides changing downtown Grand Rapids, DeVos changed the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. A pilot himself, DeVos lead the effort to bring Southwest airlines, a low-cost carrier, to the airport. He set up the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan, an organization that stressed how important the airport was to West Michigan’s economic growth. The airport’s makeover and new service greatly benefited the community.
Once CEO of the Amway business that his father, Richard DeVos Sr., co-founded, DeVos is a well-known philanthropist and advocate school choice. He is currently president of the Windquest Group. Devos is also known for founding the West Michigan Aviation Academy at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The tuition-free public charter high school gets teens ready for a career in aviation. While being a helicopter and a jet pilot as DeVos is a natural choice for many teens, the school stresses other careers as well, such as aerospace engineering and airplane maintenance.
DeVos, along with his wife, Betsy, created the Great Lakes Education Project to promote school choice. DeVos and his wife have both publicly stated that they feel that low-income parents should have a choice, as they did, when deciding where to send their children to school.
DeVos and his wife contribute to the community through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, which focuses on education, art and community improvements in West Michigan. Between 1989 and 2015, the foundation gave away $137.8, including scholarships and a generous $12.5 million to build the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. A graduate of Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, DeVos also has three honorary doctorates. He regularly donates to his alma mater, including buildings and scholarships.
In 1997, DeVos’ best selling book, Rediscovering American Values, came out. The book focuses on how people can apply honesty, fairness and other values in everything that they do.
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