In 1991, after there was a proposal to construct a sports arena/convention center north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dick DeVos immediately took action to stop the idea. Mr. DeVos was concerned that building a convention center outside the primary business district would be detrimental for Grand Rapids. This resulted in the formation of Grand Action, which is a team of business leaders that were the primary force behind the construction of Michigan State University’s medical school, the Grand Rapids City Market, the DeVos Performance Hall, and the DeVos Place Convention Center.
Dick DeVos is married to Betsy DeVos. The power couple has spent countless hours lobbying to change policies and institutions that influence education and labor. Mrs. DeVos was successful in her efforts to expand charter schools, and Mr. DeVos was part of the 2012 law that changed Michigan from an organized labor state to a right-to-work state.
He was also the contributing force that lead to the updates and expansion of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. An estimated $45 million in upgrades will be finished in 2018 that includes new restrooms, restaurants, and business centers. There will also be a streamlined security check-in.
In addition, Mr. DeVos established an aviation charter school for high school students at the Gerald R. Ford Airport known as West Michigan Aviation. The aviation school started off with 80 students in a small office space at the airport and has grown to have over 600 students from seven countries. Classes focus on engineering, computer science, robotic system, and aerospace engineering. The average SAT scores for juniors in one class was 1072. This is higher than the state average and the top 10 in the United States. The West Michigan Aviation school is just as any other charter school in Michigan or traditional public school because tuition is free. The school functions on funding from the state, and Mr. and Mrs. DeVos contributed more than $7 million through 2014.
Mr. and Mrs. DeVos founded the Great Lakes Education Project. This is an organization that is based on school-choice advocacy. This organization was formed to take political action on education policies.
The couple has donated an estimated $138.7 million to numerous areas that include education and leadership programs, health and human services, churches, arts and culture, and policy initiatives that are focus on scholarships and education reform from 1989 to 2015. The couple continues to work diligently.
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