Dick DeVos has been highly engaged in West Michigan business and society. By leading business groups, founding companies, launching political initiatives, participating in local government and pursuing regional and national policy reform and philanthropic efforts, Dick DeVos has contributed substantially to the transformation of West Michigan life and its economy.
DeVos, a billionaire, is an heir to the Amway company and the family fortune and also served as Amway’s CEO from 1993 to 2002. With significant resources at his disposal, DeVos and his wife, Betsy DeVos, also from a family of means, have contributed to various political and social causes in West Michigan and the city of Grand Rapids.
The couple has used the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation as a platform for millions in donations to such causes as local leadership, human services, culture, the arts, churches and educational reform.
Betsy, a former US Secretary of Education, has championed educational reform where the couple also advocates for educational choice. The couple recognizes remote learning, homeschooling, private school vouchers and publicly-funded charter schools, among others, as alternative options outside of designated public schools in a family’s zip code.
In this interest, Dick DeVos also became an elected member of the Michigan State Board of Education and helped form the All Children Matter organization.
In terms of business, Dick DeVos, also part-owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic basketball franchise, took action in 1991 in response to what he deemed a poorly founded proposal for a Grand Rapids convention and sports complex, similar to ill-informed projects in Detroit.
Through the Grand Action business group and after completing economic analysis and feasibility studies, the outcome was a series of alternate civic center projects, transforming and revitalizing Grand Rapids’ downtown. Projects including a new convention center and sports arena, a new hotel, a Civic theater renovation and a university biomedical research institute.