Posted in Education

The National Dick DeVos Brand: Self-Engineered Agent of Change

Dick DeVos, husband of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and former president of Amway Products, is known in the circles he travels as a man who strong-arms his way into just about everything from airports and arenas to worker’s rights and Washington, DC.


At one time, plans for a sports and convention arena north of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, was intercepted by Dick DeVos. He lobbied to stop the development because he deemed it ‘detrimental’ to the city. However, the replacement plans were DeVos’ own multi-purpose sports and convention arena, complete with his family’s name brand as the star attraction.


When DeVos is determined to take credit, he doesn’t do much by way of asking, and much more in the line of telling. Along with the arena and convention center also came a performance hall, a city market, and Michigan State’s medical school. If it has to do with education and labor, the DeVos brand name is somewhere close by.


When it comes to education, the DeVos’s are determined that more disadvantaged children have access to educational opportunities through school choice voucher programs.


Outside of Dick DeVos’ dreams and philosophies, rejection and loss seem to underscore his intentions no matter how well-meaning, but inside his own self-made world, the DeVos family name simply refuses to give up.


As the tug of war between school choice and traditional public school systems rages on, DeVos’ doesn’t hesitate to make his own brainchild, a love of education and aviation, a trademark for opportunism. The West Michigan Aviation Academy, a private charter school operating on public funds, also receives a large portion of its funding directly from the DeVos family.


Though DeVos is said to keep his personal politics out of school matters, he did decide not to call the parent association group a PTA and he did decide on the types and colors of clothing for male members of the Academy.


It seems a matter of opinion as to what, exactly, “school choice” is when the private lottery and vouchering systems are so limited, or limited to what the DeVos’ family thinks education should look like.


Dick DeVos, who tends to craft himself as a textbook case ‘change agent’, is going to need more than a few model charter schools to convince his political opposition that his personal interests are in alignment with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for public education.


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Posted in Education

Dick DeVos Funds A Number Of Different Educational Projects

Dick and Betsy DeVos have always been heavily involved in philanthropy. They have a number of passions including education, and they strive to create opportunity for those who struggle to find their way. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation funds many different programs. Kids Hope USA, the West Michigan Aviation Academy, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grove City College, and Urban Living are just a few of the programs that received funding from Dick and Betsy DeVos.


The West Michigan Aviation Academy was a unique idea that came from the passions of both Dick and his wife. Dick DeVos enjoys aviation. Betsy DeVos is very committed to providing education to anyone who desires it. They decided to combine their ideas and turn it into an opportunity for those who wanted to learn something new. This is where they came up with the idea for the academy.


The DeVos family is mostly proud of the fact that they were able to present the West Michigan Aviation Academy as a charter high school. This means that there is no funding required to attend school. It provides everyone who desires to study the unique curriculum at the academy with a chance to attend without financial strain.


Dick and Betsy DeVos donated 22.5 million dollars to the Kennedy Center & Institute of Arts Management in 2010. The facility was then named the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center. It offers intense training to art managers and board members. A focal point of studies is the Capacity Building Program. It provides technical assistance through seminars, on-site consultations and web chats.


Dick and Betsy DeVos took over as co-chairs of the Education Freedom Fund on 1993. The program offers scholarships to those families who cannot afford certain levels of tuition. The scholarship money provides them with the opportunity to attend the school of their choice. The DeVos family also matched donations given to the Education Freedom Fund by the Children’s Scholarship Fund. They continue to be heavily involved with the organization and has taken on all of its financial responsibilities.


Dick DeVos is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his bachelor’s degree at Northwood University. DeVos would later go on to join his father’s company in 1974. Richard DeVos Sr developed Amway out of the family’s home. Dick DeVos began working for him as a child doing simple task. However, he eventually took over as CEO of Amway in place of his father.


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