Can Dick DeVos Save Grand Rapids Michigan?

Dick DeVos is the son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and graduated from the Forest Hills public school system. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwood University – also in Michigan. He later participated in, but did not complete, Executive Study Programs at both Harvard Business School and Wharton.


Dick was involved with Amway from the time he was a child, and eventually went on to serve as CEO from 1993-2002. He then became a partial owner of the Orlando Magic – a franchise of the National Basketball Association.


He then went on to create Alticor, which became the parent company of Amway and is credited with growing Amway into a global business. He retired and 2002, and has since worked with his wife Betsy on The Windquest Group, an investment management firm.


Even with all these business accomplishments, Dick DeVos is also very active in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1991, a plan was created to build a multi-purpose sports and convention center in the area. Dick worked tirelessly to lobby against the idea after seeing the hardship created by similar venues in the area when they became vacated. His efforts against the construction of this sports and convention center led to the formation of Grand Action, which is responsible for creating many key businesses in the area that has caused a renaissance in Grand Rapids.


Dick DeVos has also made many donations towards education. From 1989 to 2015, it is reported Dick donated $138.7 million to various education programs and efforts to reform scholarships towards private schools.


In 2006, he and his wife donated $12.5 million towards a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids.


However, Dick and his wife have not always succeeded in their efforts. This is because, although they seem to have good intentions, they have a distinct educational philosophy that values charter and private schools. Voters rejected a constitutional amendment they sponsored that would have created tax-funded vouchers for students to attend public schools. Dick DeVos also lost in his efforts to become governor of Michigan to Jennifer Granholm.


You may or may not agree with Dick and his wife’s educational philosophies, but it seems they are really doing what they feel is best for Grand Rapids, and the state of Michigan.


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