A 1991 plan to build a sports arena in Grand Rapids did not sit well with Dick DeVos. The heir to his family’s Amway Corp reached for the phone and immediately began lobbying against the idea.
DeVos believed the convention center to be a bad idea for downtown Grand Rapids after watching a similar situation unfold in the city of Detroit. In that case, sports facilities that were built for the Lions and Pistons were eventually abandoned by the teams when they left the city in the 1970’s.
DeVos efforts to push back against the sports complex proposal were eventually led to the formation of a group that named itself Grand Acton. This is a group of business leaders who were thriving forces many high-profile constructions that took place in the Grand Rapids area.
Dick and wife Betsy, both heirs to vast family fortunes, have spent a large amount of both time and resources while fighting to affect change on institution and policy in the Michigan area. Their efforts as megadonors for the GOP have resulted in many changes in state laws pertaining to education and labor.
Dick Devos successfully led the charge that caused Michigan to be converted from a state that favored organized labor policies to a right to work state where membership in a particular union would no longer be necessary to secure employment.
For her part, Betsy DeVos concentrated her efforts on the expansion of the state’s charter school availability.
The couple’s philanthropy has also been well-noted. From the year 1989 to the year 2015, the family foundation named in the couple’s honor gave over $138 million to programs dedicated to arts and culture, leadership, health services, church organizations, as well as initiatives pertaining to education and private school tuition.
Betsy DeVos has been on record explaining that the outcome she seeks is for children born to poor families be afforded the same opportunities as those born to a more affluent set of circumstances.
A crowning achievement for Dick DeVos is the founding of the West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2010. The school is a not for profit charter school focusing on aviation that has grown from 80 students to 600 students since its opening. Learn more: http://www.celebfamily.com/business/richard-devos-family.html