Dick DeVos grew up in Michigan and has been able to make a big difference in the state in many ways during his lifetime. As a proponent of school choice, he helped to pass Michigan’s first legislation that supports students whose families wish to see them in a charter or private school. The legislation helped to cover the steep costs of attending these schools. DeVos attempted to help pass other laws that would help to bring equal opportunities to students in the state, but they did not pass.
In 2010, Dick DeVos decided to head in another direction by founding a charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The school is known as The West Michigan Aviation Academy, and it is a nonprofit public school that started out in a older office on at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. In the beginning, the school had just 80 students, but it has, since, grown to now support hundreds of students. Students come from all over the region to attend the school, and some of them take more than one bus just to be able to study there.
Dick DeVos is a conservative Christian who believes in smaller government. He helped to create the Great Lakes Education Project with his wife, Betsy DeVos, which is an organization that promotes educational choice. He made the West Michigan Aviation Academy free to attend and has supported the school through donations for many years. DeVos is a pilot, himself, and is happy to be able to support the dreams of young students who hope to someday serve in the aviation industry. He feels that the atmosphere at the airport gives students a feeling of being a part of something and that it might also give them a glimpse of what they have to look forward to in the future.
Dick DeVos has done a whole lot more for Grand Rapids in the past. During the early 1990s, he helped put a stop to a bad idea that had been circulating around the city. The idea had to do with the creation of a multi-purpose convention center and sports arena that people were wanting to build north of the city’s downtown area. While others were considering the idea, DeVos was lobbying it by making phone calls. He knew it would not turn out well because he had seen a similar idea fail in Detroit during the 1970s. The city had constructed a sports arena only to watch its sports teams leave later on.
Thanks to Dick DeVos, the arena and convention center was never built in Grand Rapids. He also helped to create a group of businessmen known as Grand Action during this time. This group has continued to improve the city by supporting the construction of multiple buildings that have made Grand Rapids what it is today.
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