Almost 30 years ago, Dick was working for the family company when he learned of plans to construct a new convention center and sports arena in the downtown Grand Rapids area. Though he was trying to work his way up the ladder to CEO of Amway, Dick DeVos decided he had to do something to try and stop the plans from going through.
He made some calls to other prominent business leaders in the area and together they formed the Grand Action Group. They all felt the new convention center was going to be detrimental to the area. Though they were not successful stopping the plans from going through, they still felt there were lessons to learn from trying.
Both Betsy and Dick DeVos came from families who were wealthy. Instead of living a lavish lifestyle and doing nothing constructive, they both spent much of their lives trying to change policies and institutions. They are both mega-donors for the GOP. Their political influences and big donations have helped to cause major changes in both labor and education state laws.
In 2012, Dick changed the Michigan law that allowed employees to be able to work without having to become members of unions. During that time, Betsy was working on expanding charter schools across the country. She was successful in this and in time became the Education Secretary for President Trump.
Though the pair are big in politics and education, their generosity with donations extends into other areas as well. From 1989 to 2015, the family reportedly gave away more than $139 million in donations to other types of charities such as health and human services, arts and culture, leadership programs, churches and policy initiatives that are centered around educational reform and scholarships for students attending private school systems.
DeVos Backed Charter School Growing
Betsy and Dick opened up a charter school in an unused area of the Grand Rapids airport in western Michigan. It is a nonprofit school that started with only 80 students. There are more than 1,000 students to date and many of the kids attending have to take public transportation from out of the country to attend. Each spring, a public lottery is held for the school to pick the students who can attend when applications exceed the openings.
The couple also founded the group called Great Lakes Education Project. It is an educational school-choice organization that fights for school advocacy. Recently, Michigan had a bailout for the Detroit school district. The DeVos’ group and many other groups fought together to get rid of the proposal created that would make the formation of a commission necessary to conclude whether public and charter schools could be opened. They were successful and able to block the proposal.
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