Dick DeVos is the heir to marketing company Amway. Together with his wife, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, he has used his considerable wealth and influence to help implement several conservative policies.
Betsy DeVos has focused on expanding charter schools while simultaneously deregulating them. Dick DeVos has also played a role in deregulation. He was a crucial player in creating the 2012 law that changed the union membership mandate in Michigan. However, they do use their fortune to influence more than just Republican politics. They are also the founders of the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which gives millions of dollars to churches, as well as organizations focused on health and human services, arts and culture, and leadership. It also has a scholarship fund to help send children to private school.
Dick and Betsy have also spent considerable time trying to improve the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. In the early 1990’s, the city considered building a giant convention center, a plan that Dick DeVos was strongly against. His efforts to stop this development lead to the creation of the Grand Action organization. This group has been responsible for the implementation of the Michigan State University medical school, the DeVos Convention Center and Performance Hall, and the Van Andel Arena. Additionally, DeVos donated more than $12 million towards a children’s hospital named after his mother. With the construction of the hospital, DeVos hoped to prevent families from having to travel to larger cities to access health care for their children.
Dick DeVos, like his wife, has also taken an interest in education reform. He helped open an aviation charter school at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. He also played a key role in the decision to run more flights out of this international airport.
Betsy DeVos has stated that the goal from their philanthropy is to see disadvantaged children have the same opportunities that her family had. However, not everyone agrees with their methods or policies. Dick Devos lost the Michigan gubernatorial race in 2006. Several years ago, voters rejected an amendment sponsored by Dick and Betsy that tried to use tax money to pay for student vouchers to attend private schools instead of public schools. This did not stop their passion for school voucher programs. More than twenty states now offer a voucher program for students, and Betsy’s work in this arena is one of the main reasons she was appointed Secretary of Education by President Trump.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.