In 1991, when DeVos was on the verge of becoming the CEO of Amway Corp, a plan was publicly announced about the construction of a convention and multipurpose sports arena in the north of downtown.
Dick DeVos was not pleased by the idea, because he saw the potential of the arena having a negative effect, just like in the 1970s when the construction of the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Pontiac Silverdome impacted the move of the Pistons and Lions to leave Detroit.
When DeVos picked his phone to campaign against the construction of the sports facility, the Grand Action was formed. This group is basically a group of businesses leaders who spearheaded the construction of the DeVos Place Convention Center, the Van Andel Arena, the Michigan State University medical school, the Grand Rapids City Market and the DeVos Performance Hall. Their impact was felt, and the construction of the sports arena was halted.
Since Betsy and Dick DeVos are heirs to two family fortunes, they have spent a lot of their time trying to bring change to the policies and institutions in place. They have great political influence because they are mega-donors of the GOP, which has helped them to influence a lot of changes in state laws that touch on labor and education.
For instance, politically speaking, Betsy DeVos is the current U.S Education Secretary, while DeVos is a member of the seven-team who spearheads the U.S Department of Transportation. The 13 member team advises the FAA on policy, regulatory matters, spending, and long-range planning.
Additionally, DeVos also played a big part in ensuring that the Gerald R. Ford International Airport opened routes out of Grand Rapids airport to lower airfares and spur growth in passengers who were traveling through the airport. DeVos and his wife are also co-founders of the Michigan Aviation Academy that was chartered in 2010 to prepare students for the aviation industry.
Apart from their political influence, they also spearhead other philanthropy causes like the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. The foundation was reported to have contributed $138.7 million to different fields like health and human services, arts and culture, leadership programs, policy initiatives based on educational reforms and private school scholarship, between 1989 and 2015.
In 2006, the couple donated $12.5 million to the construction of the $103 million hospitals for children in the Spectrum Health System that was named after Amway’s co-founder’s wife, Helen Devos, who is also Dick’s mother. Families are now able to stay at home and parents to avoid traveling to distant places to receive care.
The beauty of the education reforms the DeVos family is working on is how it allows children from low-income families to receive the the same opportunities that their kids experience. Even though they have good intentions, they have not managed to sway the public their way.
Even though the public is still digesting how to classify the DeVos family, president Donald Trump decided to appoint Betsy as the U.S Secretary of Education to spearhead the changes that would impact school choice programs.
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Betsy DeVos, the current States Secretary of Education, is creating waves with her bold moves to bring education reforms in the sector to clean up the system. I am pretty convinced with her revolutionary plans that can revive the quality of the sector, which was hailed for long. While some people see her with apprehensions, people in Michigan understands her commitment and efforts to the education efforts, as she was the most-known face in reviving the education sector for the last three decades. Betsy is a true champion of solution-based activism, and her initiatives have proved to be immensely effective, over the years. It can be said that the most appropriate person is currently sitting in the chair of the Secretary of Education of the country.
Betsy started her education efforts in the early 80’s when she was trying to admit her children in Grand Rapids. She identified that many low-income families were facing troubles to get the quality education for their children due to affordability. Betsy immediately thought to address this issue and set up some scholarships to help students from low-income families in Grand Rapids. Later, she identified that the problem was widespread, and it could not just be addressed with scholarships. Betsy designed a number of education initiatives to improve the overall quality of education that can ensure a better America in future. I admire her efforts as she was putting her heart and soul though she was from an affluent family.
Betsy proclaimed education initiatives, including School of Choice, School Vouchers, School Grading, and Charter School System, to improve the overall quality and performance of the schools. All these programs are putting the responsibility of the performance of the school on the management by giving increased authority and autonomy. Interestingly, the charter school system has reached every nook and corner of the country considering its consistent results. I can also tell that she is a very active contributor to various philanthropic efforts covering education, culture, community, justice, and more. Betsy and husband, Dick DeVos, set up DeVos Family Foundation in 1989 and contributed nearly $140 million to various initiatives as of today.
Betsy also collaborated with a number of community initiatives, philanthropic organizations, education activist groups, cultural institutions, and more. She served on the boards of American Federation for Children, Philanthropy Roundtable, ArtPrize, Alliance for School Choice, Great Lakes Education Project, The Potter’s House School, DeVos Institute for Arts Management, Foundation for Excellence in Education, and more. Betsy was also the Chairwomen of The Windquest Group from 1993 and continued in the post until 2016. It is a private investment management and advisory firm based in Michigan. Betsy completed her schooling from Christian High School located in Holland and received her graduation from Calvin College, Michigan.
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