Dick Devos: Businessman and Philanthropist

Dick DeVos may be Grand Rapids, Michigan’s most enthusiastic booster. After all, Mr. DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, and he attended public school in the nearby suburb of Forest Hills. He met his wife Betsy when she was a student at Calvin College, which is a liberal arts college that’s associated with the Christian Reformed Church and is located in Grand Rapids.


Dick DeVos’s affection for Grand Rapids is more than just a sentimental indulgence, however. Like every successful entrepreneur, Dick DeVos is a pragmatist, and he has correctly identified the city’s potential for dynamic business growth. That’s one of the reasons why in the early 1990s, when a plan was floated to build a sports arena and business complex far away from Grand Rapids’ downtown, Dick DeVos vehemently opposed it. Why not invest energy and money into revitalizing Grand Rapids’ downtown, he asked? This question was the genesis of the Grand Action Committee, which has grown into a nonprofit organization known today as Grand Action.


A Revitalized Grand Rapids


Fast-forward nearly 30 years, and Grand Rapids sports an impressive skyline, thanks—in no small part—to the efforts of Dick DeVos. The Van Andel Arena is home to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins as well as a popular location for concerts. The DeVos Place Convention Center is a combination business meeting venue and another spot where Michiganders can enjoy live entertainment; it is connected to the Van Andel Arena by an attractive skyway that’s known as the Grand River Promenade.


Dick DeVos: A Business Visionary


While Dick DeVos may be less well known than his wife Betsy, whose zeal for educational choice helped propel her into a role as U.S. Secretary of Education, he is no less committed to constructive change. He’s presently CEO of a holding company called the Windquest Group. The Windquest Group is based in Grand Rapids, of course.


The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, which Dick DeVos helps helm, donated a staggering $139 million to various groups and organizations between 1989 and 2015. The beneficiaries of the DeVos Foundation’s largesse included art and cultural initiatives, churches, educational programs and programs that support the development of leadership skills. In 2006, Dick and Betsy DeVos also contributed nearly $13 million toward the construction of a local pediatric hospital so that Grand Rapids’ children would not have to travel all the way to Chicago or Ann Arbor should they fall ill.


To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

Category: Philanthropy

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