Highly effective Betsy DeVos, narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate as United States Secretary of Education, with her husband, Dick DeVos, contributed millions of dollars to Grand Rapid, Michigan, for its airport revitalization. Dick DeVos serves on the United States Department of Transportation Management Advisory Council of the Federal Aviation Administration. The civilian advisory board advises and oversees FAA long-range planning and spending. His three year term of public service allows him to keep his private sector employment as a pilot, businessman, and educator.
Not easily discouraged, Dick and Betsy DeVos opposed a multi-purpose convention center and sports arena for their Grand Rapids, Michigan, area. They organized a group of local business leaders and proceeded to construct the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center and Performance Hall, and Michigan State University’s medical school. They did not lose the Grand Rapids skyline to suburban sprawl.
Dick and Betsy DeVos energetically devoted their adult lives as mega-contributors to improving public policy and institutions. From 1989 to 2015, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation contributed $138.7 million including $12.5 million to the $103 million Spectrum Health System children’s hospital.
Parent and Student Choice in Education
Dick and Betsy DeVos realize they don’t always win. Dick lost his campaign for governor in 2006, and while Betsy was unsuccessful in her own state when she sponsored vouchers for poor children to be able to attend private school, she succeeded in the District of Columbia and 24 other states. Parent and student choice in education is one of the DeVos Foundation’s biggest initiatives. Learn more: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2017/10/the_billionaire_that_put_grand.html
The West Michigan Aviation Academy
In 2010, Dick DeVos founded the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a unique nonprofit public charter school which evolved into a 600-student aviation school at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The DeVos Great Lakes Education Project advocates for parent and student choices in education. The DeVos family contributed $7 million to match the state student allowance of $7,500 per student, and they lent another $3 million dollars to the school for equipment and future growth.
The aviation charter school instills anything is possible. Travel to international destinations is part of life. Math and science students, motivated by airplanes, master computer science, engineering, and advanced robotics. Not all students want to fly airplanes, but the school offers flight training in two Cessna private planes. Pilots wear white shirts if they have completed a solo flight. Math, literature, and foreign language classes complete the prestigious charter school education.
Dedication and Experience
Dick DeVos enticed AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines into the Grand Rapids’ airport. Both airlines offer nonstop flights to and from the Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Southwest offers nonstop flights from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Orlando and Baltimore. The airport’s exponential passenger growth rate led to $45 million in improvements to airport security, new restrooms, business services, convenience stores, and restaurants. Dick DeVos recognized the regional airport’s importance to West Michigan’s economic success. Dick and Betsy DeVos will serve their country well in the United States Departments of Education and Transportation.