Businessman, politician, and philanthropist Dick DeVos was born Richard DeVos Jr in 1955, in Michigan. He is the son of Richard DeVos, founder of the Amway corporation. DeVos grew up around the family business, earning his college degree from Northwood University, and starting his work with Amway in 1974. As he was beginning his career with the family business, he married Betsy DeVos. Alongside his wife, he would accomplish tremendous things.
Aside from his business endeavors, Dick DeVos has been involved in politics and philanthropy since his adulthood. His entire family is known for their charitable contributions, as well as their activism. DeVos has been elected to the Michigan State Board of Education, and ran for Governor of Michigan in 2006. In 1993, Dick DeVos and his wife would become co-chairs of the Education Freedom Fund, providing scholarships to low-income families so they can attend the school they choose.
Both Mr. and Mrs. DeVos have been active in the fight for greater school choices, as they believe Americans should have a broader range of educational choices for their children. They have fought for decades for voucher-programs, which would allow children to not be restricted by their zip code. He has been the co-chairman of the “Kids First! Yes!” Campaign, as well as a member of groups like the American Education Reform Council and Children First America.
But Dick DeVos and his wife are not only concerned about the education of their home-state. They have worked hard over recent decades to improve the state of Michigan, in many different ways. Their family foundation, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, has given away roughly $140 million to churches, policy initiatives, arts and culutre, health and human services, and leadership programs. And when a large sports and convention arena was proposed to be built in Grand Rapids, Dick DeVos quickly began lobbying against the proposal.
Dick showed concern over the convention center, fearing that the build would just as detrimental to Grand Rapids as the Silverdome and Palace had been in Detroit when the Lions and Pistons left. He formed a group of business leaders, which would be known as the Grand Action group. This group would be largely responsible for the building of the Grand Rapids City Market, the DeVos Performance Hall, the medical school at Michigan State University, Van Andel Arena, and the DeVos Place Convention Center. This group of business leaders changed the city’s skyline forever.
This type of progress is not new to Dick DeVos, or his wife Betsy. As heirs to 2 large fortunes, Dick and Betsy have spent much of their time trying to change policies and institutions. As donors to the GOP, their influence has even produced major changes to state laws in regards to labor and education (http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/12/01/michigan-parole-reform/94075318/). Together, Dick and Betsy have expanded the use of charter schools, turned Michigan into a right-to-work state, and more. And their push for freedom in education? Almost 25 states now have some type of voucher-program for private schools.