A proposal was publicly laid out in Grand Rapids to construct an all-purpose sports and convention facility in the north of downtown in the year 1991. Dick DeVos was against the idea. During this time, Dick DeVos was on his way to becoming the CEO of a company owned by his family (Amway Corp). According to DeVos, the convention center was a threat to downtown Grand Rapids. He feared since the establishment of the Palace of Auburn Hills and Pontiac Silverdome in the 1970s had negatively affected Detroit when the Pistons and Lions left the city.
As a result of DeVos’ opposition to the sports facility outside the Central Business District, a group of business leaders formed Grand Action. These business leaders were the ones behind the construction of various facilities, the DeVos Place Convention Center, Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market included as well as the medical school at Michigan State University and the DeVos Performance Hall.
The DeVos’ spent a lot of their time as adults trying to change policies as well as institutions. This comes after they inherited the fortunes of their family. Their impact in political affairs has contributed to alterations in many laws of the state affecting labor and education. Betsy DeVos succeeded in the fight for the expansion of Charter schools. The conversion of Michigan from the birthplace of organized labor into an institution where employees no longer required union membership was as a result of the 2012 law engineered by Dick DeVos.
$138.7 million was given away to human services, churches, education reforms centered policies, private school scholarships, arts and culture and leadership programs. This was from 1989 to 2015 as reported by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Dick and Betsy DeVos made a $12.5 million donation towards the establishment of a pediatric hospital named after Helen DeVos, Dick’s mother and wife of Richard DeVos, founder of Amway.
One of the most significant initiatives of the DeVos’ has been education reforms. Dick DeVos is the founder of a charter high school found at the Grand Rapids International Airport. According to Betsy, their advocacy has been aimed at providing children from low-income families with access the same opportunities as their kids had. However, their efforts to gain support for their philosophies from the public have always been futile. The constitutional amendment to have tax created vouchers given to students attending private schools was rejected by voters in 2000. Dick DeVos lost a gubernatorial campaign to his opponent Jennifer Granholm six years later.
Dick and Betsy DeVos did not quit, but instead, they took their private school vouchers’ advocacy to other regions in the country. Currently, some form of vouchers for private schools are offered in twenty-four states and Columbia. President Donald Trump cited pointed out her advocacy for schools as a reason for appointing Betsy, the secretary for education. Through an intense debate over the influence of school choice programs on the operations of public schools, the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed her.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/ to learn more.