Dick and Betsy DeVos

The DeVos are popularly known for their push for institution and policy change, especially in education and labor. They are major funders of Republican politics and are strong advocates of school-choice policies.

Dick DeVos is the oldest son of Amway co-founder, Rich DeVos, chief executive of The Windquest Group and an experienced pilot. Betsy DeVos is widely known for her push for the adoption of charter schools, and through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, they have both contributed to education initiatives by funding programs and offering scholarships to charter schools. Michigan remembers Dick for promoting the 2012 state law on labor that disbanded union membership as a mandatory requirement for employment.

The effect on their community, through their family foundation, has reached great lengths. Over the last two decades, the foundation has funded initiatives in leadership, culture, health, human services, churches and education transformation to the tune of $138.7 million. They are credited as major contributors, in the building of a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids under the Spectrum Health System where Dick DeVos is chairman of spectrum’s corporate board.

The DeVos’ legacy has revolved around education reform, and they founded the Great Lakes Education Project to push for school choice initiatives. Dick DeVos co-founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, alongside his wife, Betsy, highlighting their commitment towards championing ideologies in education, specifically the embracing of charter schools. The academy is at the Grand Rapids International Airport, where Dick DeVos is recognized for turning around fortunes of the airport and spurring economic growth of the region. Because of his efforts, he was appointed a member of the Federal Aviation Authority Management Advisory Council.

The DeVos’ push for education reforms hit a rock in 2000 when a constitutional amendment to allow public funds to sponsor students attending charter schools was defeated at the ballot. Their advocacy, however, continued to gain momentum in other states and later saw adoption in twenty-four other states. Dick DeVos, on his part, has experienced some personal defeats having lost the governor’s election to Jennifer Granholm in 2006.

Ideologies that the DeVos advocate for are unpopular with a section of the public and this came to haunt Betsy DeVos during her appointment as the Education Secretary. Her approval at the Senate was closely contested because of her stand on charter school initiatives and their effect on traditional public schools. This is despite President Trump saying that it was one of the motivations behind her appointment.

 

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