Change Marker Dick Devos

Dick Devos, a successful business man and philanthropist, has been behind the creation of charitable foundations, lobbying efforts and the construction of arts-focused endeavors. He is the husband of Betsy Devos, President Trump’s US Secretary of Education. Together, through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, they gave away millions to programs that focused on leadership programs, human services and churches. Here are some highlights from his philanthropic and lobbying efforts.


Across the United States, cities have turned to building multi-purpose complexes centered around a professional sports team with the goal of boosting their city’s tourism and income. Enough of these complexes have failed to accomplish either including the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills because their respective teams relocated. Devos remembers this occurrence, so when a plan to build such a complex in Grand Rapids in 1991 was formulated, he lobbied against it.


At the time, Devos was well on his way to becoming the new CEO of Amway Corp., his family’s business. He called his contacts, business colleagues and friends, and gained enough steam to form Grand Action. Consisting of business leaders, the group was the reason the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall were built. Additionally, the Grand Rapids City Market and Michigan State University’s medical school also came to be.


The Grand Action group managed to give the Grand Rapids area a new skyline and prevent suburban sprawl.


Devos and his wife, thanks to their riches and influence, have been able to make dents and changes to institutions and policies. Their focus has remained on the arts, education and public health. One of the reasons why President Trump tapped Mrs. Devos as his Secretary of Education is due to all her and her husband’s work to increase accessibility to education vouchers and school choice.


For Devos and his wife, education reform has remained important, and they have led by example. They founded an aviation charter school near Grand Rapids International Airport. Not all of their education reform missions have been successful, though. In 2000, the constitutional amendment they backed failed. If it had passed, it would have created tax-funded private school vouchers. In 2006, Mr. Devos lost his expensive bid for state governor to Jennifer Granholm, the incumbent.


Dick Devos has led a a business and philanthropic life. With his wife, he has advocated successful institutional and policy changes. Learn more: