Ask anyone throughout the United States what they know about Dick DeVos, and they’ll likely mutter something about Republican politics or maybe something else about his wife, Betsy DeVos. It is true that Dick DeVos has engaged in politics at various points in his life, including running for the governorship of Michigan in 2006, a race that he completely self-funded and only narrowly lost to the wildly popular incumbent, Jennifer Granholm. DeVos is also married to the current Secretary of Education and longtime Republican chairperson Betsy DeVos. So, it is understandable why people inevitably connect his name with Republican causes and politics in general.
However, Dick DeVos is better known around his home state of Michigan for his far more substantive accomplishments. In his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, DeVos is known for being among the handful of business leaders and entrepreneurs who were able to successfully save the city from descending into a pit of urban decay and infernal blight like what happened to Flint and Detroit. DeVos stepped up and led the way, forming the Grand Action Committee, which was able to successfully encourage massive investments around the Downtown Grand Rapids area. As a result of these efforts, today, Grand Rapids ranks as the only major city in Michigan that has consistently added large numbers to its population. And it is a regional center for the medical industry, conventions and hospitality and a major financial center in the Midwest. Grand Rapids is also frequently ranked among the best places in the country in which to live, play and work.
But DeVos’ greatest contribution to the betterment of the country may be his efforts in the field of education. Although few people are aware of the enormous contributions that DeVos has made to U.S. education, his schools serve as the model upon which a large majority of charter schools in the United States are based. DeVos’ New Urban Learning school has been in operation since the 1990s. And it has shown beyond any doubt that some of the most challenging urban areas can indeed produce top-performing students. DeVos’ schools have consistently taken kids from some of the most neglected neighborhoods in the country and turned them into top-flight scholars, routinely achieving scores on standardized tests that are normally associated with schools in the richest areas.
On top of all this, DeVos is also one of the most prolific philanthropists in the state of Michigan. Overall, the state has profited enormously from DeVos’ presence.
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