Some say that Dick Devos was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. This doesn’t change how he perceives the world, but it does provide the tools to work toward change. Dick and wife, Betty, have been using their influence and money for decades to improve education and health in the United States.
Grand Rapids, Michigan, is home to the couple that were both blessed with inherited family fortunes. As a result, this city is reaping the benefits of being one of the best places to live and retire in the country.
The journey of improving the education system has always been paramount to Dick and Betty. Dick has taken a personal interest in improving the quality of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. His deep roots in aviation has aided greatly in seeing through on necessary programs, upgrades, and growth to the once stagnant airport.
In keeping with the educational outlook of the area, Devos created a charter high school, West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2010. The school follows the same mode of thinking as the couple’s desire to expand private schools to provide more education choices to parents and students. While the Grand Rapids government is continuing to battle such a radical change, 24 states and the District of Columbia have come onboard by offering some type of vouchers for private schools.
The new Aviation Academy is tuition-free and operates on a per-student allowance from the state. Growing from 80 students to 600, there is clearly an interest in the aviation future. According to a study released by North Dakota and the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2015, a pilot shortage in the near future is real and no one has the answers. The cost of flight training and certification, low pay at regional carriers and the 2013 regulatory change that mandated a sixfold increase in flight hours required by First Officers has stifled many student’s dreams of entering the aviation field. DeVos had the insight to remedy this looming problem for the country, plus create an educational program that gave students a chance of learning aviation.
The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is another example of the extreme measures used by Dick and Betty DeVos in Grand Rapids. Likened to The Mayo Clinic, it is also one out of only 50 buildings dedicated exclusively to the care of children. Named after his mother, a well-known philanthropist, Dick DeVos made the first $12.5 million donation to begin work on the $103 million hospital. Opened in 2011, The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is now a leading specialty facility that treats many childhood illnesses and diseases. There is also a blood and bone marrow transplantation program. Not forgetting education, MSU College of Human Medicine sits across the street, a convenience for students entering into residency.
While most people propose ideas and work to generate interest, Dick and Betty DeVos make things happen. The city of Grand Rapids and the country owes a debt of gratitude to Dick DeVos for his massive achievements.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.