Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy have always put their money where their mouth is when it comes to their belief in giving back to their community. In fact, from the years 1989 to 2015, nearly $140 million was donated by the couple through the Dick and Betsy Family Foundation.
The many causes championed by the foundation include initiatives for arts and culture, religion, human services, and education reform.
The couple also provided the lead donation of $12.5 million toward the Spectrum Health System’s children hospital in their native Grand Rapids. The total cost of the hospital was $103 million and it was named in honor of Dick’s mother, Helen DeVos.
Dick is especially proud of the children’s hospital and the impact it has had on the lives of parents in his community. He explains that parents in Grand Rapids no longer have to take long drives to Ann Arbor or Chicago to find the medical care their children need.
But perhaps the biggest contribution Dick and Betsy DeVos have made to their community is in education reform. Dick is responsible for founding the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The Academy is a public charter school that focuses on aviation in addition to the normal high school curriculum in Michigan.
Dick says the school was something he and his wife wanted to start because kids should be able to see the many possibilities that life could hold for them. Dick says the couple felt they could excite the children and cause them to become eager to come to school each day with the airplanes. Once the attention of the children was gained, the West Memphis Aviation Academy would make sure they received a complete and quality education.
The school now boasts of 600 students and has its own building. This is a far cry from the 80 students that were part of the inaugural class that used office space provided by the Gerald Ford International Airport.
The Great Lakes Education Project was started by the couple to influence the fight for school choice. The Project includes a political action committee and acts as the muscle behind Betsy’s belief that all parents should have the right to choose where their children are educated.
Betsy DeVos has been vocal about her belief that bigger government will never be capable of solving the problems within America’s education system. She expresses her belief to anyone that will listen that the answer includes control at the local level, paying attention to the needs expressed by parents, and offering families an assortment of choices.
The work the couple has performed culminated with Betsy DeVos being selected as America’s Secretary of Education in 2016. And while many would hang their hat on these accomplishments, for Dick and Betsy Devos the battle rages on.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.