Dick and Betsy DeVos have been lobbying for political and educational change for many years. For instance, in 1991, Dick DeVos immediately began lobbying against plans to construct a multi-purpose convention center and sports arena outside of the Grand Rapids central business district. He opposed the idea because he felt it wouldn’t benefit the businesses in downtown Grand Rapids. In response, he helped to form what is known as Grand Action, which is a team of business leaders in the Grand Rapids area. This group’s efforts contributed to the construction of the DeVos Performance Hall, the Grand Rapids City Market, the Van Adel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center, and the medical school at Michigan State University.
Mr. and Mrs. DeVos both come from family fortunes, and they have contributed time and money to help improve policies and institutions. 2012 marked the year that Mr. DeVos helped to change Michigan from an organized labor state to a right-to-work state. They are known as GOP mega-donors and have significantly taken part in changing Michigan laws that deal with labor and education. Mrs. DeVos is an advocate for the growth of charter schools, which is one reason she was appointed to the position of the United States Secretary of Education by President Trump.
The couple founded the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation. This foundation donated more than $138.7 million from 1989 to 2015 to churches, arts and culture, leadership programs, health and human services, scholarships for private schools, and policy initiatives that focused on educational reform. The power couple donated also $12.5 million in 2006 to help construct the children’s hospital in the Spectrum Health System. Because of their generous donation, they helped enable families to stay with their children whom get treatment at the children’s hospital.
In addition, the couple helped to establish an aviation charter school that was located in a small office building at Grand Rapids International Airport. Today, the aviation charter high school has grown to have its own building with more than 600 students. The West Michigan Aviation Academy has students from all over the world. The charter school is free to attend just as other public schools or charter schools in Michigan. Although the school operates on an allowance from the government, the DeVos’ donated more than $7 million in 2014 to help the school flourish. Aside from core classes, such as math and science, the school also offers classes that include aerospace engineering, robotics systems, and computer science.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.