The Devos family is at the forefront of advocating reforms and policies designed to empower and better the community. In the early 90’s, Dick Devos spoke fervently against the construction of a convention center, arguing that the development would erode downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. In an excerpt published on Crains Detroit. Dick draws parallels with the construction of Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit. The mega developments were soon deserted when the Pistons and Lions left Detroit in the 70’s. The campaign by Devos at the time, led to the formation of a business minded lobby group called Grand Action. The group played a critical role in ramping up support for transformative projects like the Michigan State University medical school and the Devos Place Conventional Center.
Devos began his campaign when he was about to take up the position of CEO at Amyway Corp, an entity owned by his family. Looking back at his other contributions, back in 2012, Dick galvanized support for a law that transformed Michigan into a right to work state, where the union wasn’t an impediment to employment. Michigan was largely the birthplace of organized labor before the changes came to fruition. Betsy on her part played a pivotal role in advocating for the expansion of charter schools. A voucher program supported by Devos family saw the implementation of the Strategic Advocacy for Private School Voucher blueprint expanded throughout the US. Today, a total of 24 states and DC have a form of voucher program for private schools. The program offers parents and students more choices when it comes to schooling.
The success of school choice advocacy is seen by many policy chiefs as the reason, Betsy Devos was selected the new US Secretary of Education by President Donald Trump. Dick and wife Betsy are also best known as GOP mega donors, heirs of their family fortunes and gracious philanthropists. Through the Dick & Betsy Foundation, the couple donated a total of $139 million from 1989 to 2015. The donations went to support various causes, including leadership, churches and health and human sciences. Support also went to policy initiatives targeting private schools scholarships and education reform. In 2006, Dick and Betsy famously donated $12.5 million to support a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids that was valued at $100 million.
Dick Devos is also acknowledged for establishing an aviation charter high school at the Grand Rapids International Airport. The decision did not come as a surprise since Devos is a licensed pilot and a staunch aviation proponent. On September, 2017 Mlive.com reported about the appointment of Dick Devos as a member of the civilian panel charged with advising the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The 13 member panel advises the FAA top management on issues such as the regulatory framework, policy and spending. The appointment was made by Elaine Chao, the US department of Transportation Secretary in late September. Appointees serve for a duration of 3 years and are not legally bound to leave their private or public sector positions.
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