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The DeVos Legacy of Growth in Grand Rapids

Dick DeVos is known by many Michigan residents for his decade-long role as the CEO of Amway Corp., but his work for the company only provides a single perspective on his broader impact on the development of Grand Rapids. His enduring and active interest in the direction and potential of the city spurred him to get involved in critical development decisions as early as 1991. Both Dick and Betsy DeVos have had a profound impact on their entire community, helping to define the identity of the city itself.

 

Shortly before he began his career as CEO of the family company, DeVos made a mark on the political landscape with his vocal opposition to a proposed convention center. His objections to the location of the structure were based on similar circumstances that unfolded in nearby Detroit decades earlier. He believed that building the center too close to downtown could stifle growth, much like the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills.

 

The opposition campaign he initiated eventually grew into the Grand Action group, which represents business leaders from the area who want to establish direction for the city’s development. Grand Action is currently a non-profit organization with the stated mission to foster commercial growth throughout Grand Rapids. The group is considered responsible for several major local structures, including the DeVos Place Convention Center, Grand Rapids City Market and portions of the state university’s medical school campus.

 

The couple has also shown interest in helping their community get access to crucial healthcare services. They made a leading donation to the construction of a local children’s hospital in 2006, which was named the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to recognize their contributions. The hospital greatly reduced travel time for many Grand Rapids patients who previously had to visit neighboring cities to get comparable care.

 

While DeVos has certainly had a hand in shaping the city’s skyline, his legacy in Grand Rapids is not limited to construction. Between 1989 and 2015, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation reportedly gave over $130 million towards enrichment and education programs throughout the community. Contributions included sponsorship of leadership development initiatives as well as various programs emphasizing art and culture.

 

Quality and accessibility of education for youth has also been a primary concern for DeVos, who has made various contributions to academic causes. He has personally supported various education reforms and provides funding for numerous scholarship opportunities. This passion for better education also lead him to found an aviation charter school in the city’s international airport.

 

Visit http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.

 

It’s hard to deny that Dick and Betsy DeVos have both had a significant impact on the trajectory of development in Grand Rapids over the last few decades. Not all of their initiatives have proved successful, but that hasn’t stopped the couple from pushing towards their vision for the city’s future.

Betsy Devos – article recap

The residents of western Michigan have started to have trouble with reconciling with the Betsy DeVos they knew and the new one who now serves President Trump as a controversial secretary of education. In fact, at times, her new job has been referred to as her “bully pulpit.” Still, no one denies the generous and pragmatic nature of DeVos even though they dislike her political standings. Some of the phrases used to speak about her have been, insulated, tone deaf and unprepared to fulfill the responsibilities of her role as the secretary of education. These were all words that came up when people who knew her were given interviews.

 

 

Background of DeVos

In 1958, DeVos was born into the conservative and wealthy Prince family. She was raised within the walls of the Christian Reformed Church out of Holland, Michigan. The community at large was mostly Dutch and sat close to the shores of Lake Michigan. After high school, DeVos enrolled at a Christian school found close to Grand Rapids called Calvin College. This was before she married into the DeVos family, which successfully co-founded Amway along with the Van Andel family. Dick DeVos used to pick her up in a Mercedes for dates.

 

 

Educational Convictions of DeVos

Given her hometown’s religious, ethnic and cultural ties to the Netherlands, DeVos’s education convictions are not surprising. In fact, as far back as the late 1800s, a debate swarmed around what public education within the Netherlands should look like. The liberal politicians successfully pushed for secular schools because they argued how the religious schools didn’t deserve the same public funding. What soon arose was the early beginnings of school choice. We have now seen the framework of this religiously based school and the different types of more secular based schools. Abraham Kuyper, a famous theologian, had significant influence on Calvin College, which is where Betsy DeVos may have been influenced on her views of public education.

 

These views on education continue strongly in Dutch society, and based on some of her notions, we could assume both the Trump administration and DeVos endorse these views. Critics have sometimes pointed out a violation of society’s commitment to a separation of church and state. Here’s the main ideal they’re fighting for—the basis of an equal treatment for all forms of education and a neutrality in the funding and how it goes to both secular and religious schools.

 

For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.