Dick DeVos helps transform Grand Rapids, Michigan, into major commercial center

Many people throughout the country are familiar with the name Dick DeVos. His wife, Betsy DeVos, is a longtime Republican official who now serves as the U.S. Secretary of Education. What’s more, Dick DeVos himself ran for the governorship of Michigan in 2006, a race that he lost by the narrowest of margins to the then-incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm.

 

All of this DeVos family politicking has led many to indelibly associate Dick DeVos’ name with Republican politics. But this is a woefully incomplete picture of the lifelong entrepreneur, businessman and education reformer. In fact, Dick DeVos has only spent a tiny fraction of his life in anything related to politics. Although he is primarily known for his involvement in Republican causes, throughout DeVos’ home state of Michigan, he is revered for his key role in saving the West Michigan region and Grand Rapids, Michigan, in particular, from a fate that almost certainly would have resembled that of Detroit.

 

 

From maverick education reformer to a city’s savior

 

 

DeVos had been a successful entrepreneur and businessman since his early 20s. By the time he was in his mid 30s, DeVos had become intensely interested in education reform. Specifically, DeVos’ pet project was designing schools and curricula that could help inner-city youth transcend the constraints and impositions of failing urban schools, allowing the best and brightest from America’s ghettos to thrive in ways that would have otherwise been impossible.

 

Despite the many successes that DeVos has had in this area, including creating novel education systems like that seen at the internationally recognized West Michigan Aviation Academy, DeVos quickly realized how stark the challenges were that students, parents and communities faced in areas like inner-city Detroit. DeVos’ Detroit Urban Learning School has been an unqualified success. Yet he saw that once a neighborhood passes a certain threshold of blight and decay, both physical and civic, there is little that can be done for all but the most talented students.

 

By 1990, these experiences had left DeVos with the realization that the only way to avoid the total social collapse seen in Detroit was to prevent the chain reaction of productive-class flight and increasing crime from ever reaching that critical threshold from which return was impossible.

 

As DeVos saw many of the same conditions taking shape in his hometown of Grand Rapids, he decided that swift action needed to be taken in order to avert a Detroit-style catastrophic descent into the black hole of urban catastrophe.

 

He formed the Grand Action Committee, a group of some of the area’s top business leaders, which was dedicated to fomenting investment in the Downtown Grand Rapids area. DeVos himself invested tens of millions of dollars of his own fortune, quickly bringing to fruition such major projects as the DeVos Place Convention Center and the Van Andel Arena. DeVos was also behind the creation of the Medical Mile, a one-mile corridor on the city’s east side that has attracted some of the top medical talent in the country across various specialties.

 

Today, Grand Rapids ranks as the state’s fastest growing and most desirable city.

 

Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.

The Unexpected Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos was a controversial pick for Secretary of Education. There’s simply no shying away from that. But since she took office, her willingness to meet with leaders from the world of education has been a pleasant surprise. Whether they support or oppose her agenda, DeVos will sit down with them and hear them out.

 

To be clear, this is no shock to anyone who has followed DeVos’s career in politics. In her home state of Michigan, she’s been known as an effective voice for reform for years. Her entry into the political sphere came during her time as a student at Calvin College. It was then when she realized advocacy and political action was part of her vocation. Since then, it’s become her life’s work.

 

DeVos has high-level supporters including the First Lady, Melania Trump. Queen Rania of Jordan accompanied both DeVos and Mrs. Trump on a visit to a girls school. But some of the people with whom she’s met have been a surprise. For example, recently she toured a Florida charter school with its founder, Pitbull.

 

This pair seemed unlikely to many in the press corps. But this visit underscores the fact that many people, from many different backgrounds, have noticed that our school system isn’t working. It’s not preparing students for the careers of today.

 

Like Pitbull, P. Diddy and Andre Agassi, DeVos’s husband Dick has founded a charter school. Many of these schools have a particular career focus. SLAM Academy, formed by Pitbull, prepares students for careers in the worlds of sport and management. Dick DeVos’s school prepares students for careers in aviation.

 

Some are still critical of these programs as serving up unrealistic career goals. But the leadership, planning and math skills taught at these schools will serve students well in any number of careers. They’re the very definition of transferable skills.

 

DeVos’s ties to the state of Florida are strong. Her husband, Dick, was the owner of the Orlando Magic for years. She’s spent plenty of time in the state, and her family has long supported conservative Florida politicians including Jeb Bush. Though the charter school movement still has its critics, DeVos was pleased to see how successful it’s been in Florida.

 

During her time in the state, DeVos also visited traditional public schools, and universities. For example, she spent time at the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. It’s clear that the Secretary of Education takes her work seriously. In her tours of this diverse array of schools, she is seeing what works and what doesn’t.

 

For updates, follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.

Betsy DeVos and Big Thoughts

Betsy DeVos is the tough United States Secretary of Education. She’s been thinking about free speech as it relates to university campuses around the United States as of late. She thinks that excellent concepts are in no danger. She thinks that they’ll never lose at the end of the day. DeVos believes that college campuses are risky territory as far as free speech goes. She wants the public to focus on the subject by assessing it in a variety of ways. She has no fear that relates to campus censorship. She notes that censorship indeed is a problem in educational settings these days. DeVos isn’t someone who is unfamiliar with the vibe of a college campus. She at one point was a student on a campus. She revealed that she considered her campus experience to be a critical one in her existence. She classified it as being a time to contemplate things that were totally unfamiliar to her. She wants education to give young people the power to dive into concepts that they don’t know much about so far. She wants it to enable them to think outside the box more often. She doesn’t want people to view the situation in a sad or bleak light, though. She firmly believes that excellence is ultimately going to soar.

 

Betsy DeVos can seem confusing to many people in the most endearing possible way. Individuals who have had any conversations with her are not hesitant to highlight her courteous demeanor. It can be hard to connect that demeanor with her activism, though. She has thoughts that she doesn’t keep to herself. She knows that keeping her thoughts private will not do anything to push the world ahead in a beneficial way. She knows that change is all about speaking up and about not living in fear of the potential consequences. Her husband relates to her in that aspect, too. Dick DeVos knows the fundamentals of the American political climate. Her knows the realities of the American business world, too. He had Amway Corp’s top position for a long time. He was the top figure at Amway Corp beginning in 1993. He held this esteemed position until 2002.

 

Betsy DeVos is a part of President Donald Trump’s team now. This makes many people assume that she always thinks exactly like he does. That isn’t at all the legitimate truth. He has many ideas that involve all sorts of topics in the United States. One of his concepts involved rules and transgendered people and educational institution restrooms. DeVos didn’t have similar thoughts about the subject. She didn’t make fanfare about the situation, however. She has wisdom to spare. She has a background that encompasses many categories and fields. She knows from history that creating a commotion doesn’t truly get anyone anywhere. It can sometimes be difficult for people to wonder about DeVos’ genuine thoughts. They often don’t have to wonder for a second. She usually reveals them before others have the time to make educated guesses.

 

Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.