Dick DeVos, CEO of the Amway Corp. from 1993 to 2002, along with his wife, Betsy, who is the U.S Secretary of Education, both have a history of using their considerable fortune and influence to benefit the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, change government policies about labor and education, and help support a variety of organizations. According to Betsy, their actions have been guided by the hope that children from less advantageous backgrounds would have the same opportunities that their own children had. They have also been strong supporters of the Republican Party.
Dick is responsible for forming the Grand Action group in 1991. This was a group of business leaders from Grand Rapids who were concerned that the building of a proposed sports and convention arena north of downtown would hurt downtown business and cause suburban sprawl. In place of the proposed arena, the group was responsible for the construction of VanAndel Arena, the DeVos Performance Hall, the Grand Rapids City Market, and the medical school for Michigan State University in downtown Grand Rapids, avoiding the unwanted proposed arena.
Dick and his wife formed the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation in 1989. This foundation donated 138.7 million dollars to churches, schools, leadership programs, health and human services organizations, arts and cultural programs, and cultural programs. The foundation also strived to support policy issues that were important to the couple. In 2012, Dick was able to help a law pass that did away with required union membership for laborers, leaving it up to the workers whether they wanted to join one or not.
Another accomplishment of the foundations was a leading donation of 12.5 million dollars towards the construction of Spectrum Health System‘s children’s hospital. Dick stated that he was happy that the families who would use the hospital, which was named after his mother, would not need to travel to distant hospitals like the Mayo Clinic with their children, but could stay at home while their children received care. Learn more: http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about
Dick ran for governor, but was unsuccessful. He was, however, successful as the founder of the West Michigan Aviation, a charter school that is located at the Grand Rapids Airport. He also encouraged Southwest to expand into the airport, including several direct flights into the airport. This cause the airport to become an airport to be reckoned with. In addition to being home to the charter school, it is also home to the Amway corporate hangars.