As one of the staunchest supporters of the Michigan Republican party, Dick DeVos has made himself a number of political foes over the years. Unfortunately, these partisan opponents of DeVos’ political ideology often times are blinded by their own ideological concerns. This is particularly true in the case of DeVos’ considerable philanthropy, which has contributed mightily to his home state of Michigan, as well as other areas across the country and across the world.
Although DeVos’ name is inextricably linked with Republican politics, he has spent very little of his life actually pursuing political goals. His highly publicized 2006 gubernatorial run in the state of Michigan was probably, more than anything else, what solidified his image as a politician within the public mind. However, this image is almost entirely inaccurate.
In fact, one of DeVos’ most serious accomplishments has been his philanthropic pursuits. Over the course of his lifetime, he has given away more than $130 million to charitable causes across the state of Michigan and elsewhere in the United States. He has always been careful to give money to those organizations which a proven track records of accomplishing well-defined and carefully stated goals.
For DeVos, the aphorism that charity begins at home is a truism which he has chosen to live by. Of the almost $140 million that DeVos has given away over the course of his life, the majority of that money has gone to charities, schools and other nonprofit organizations in his hometown of Grand Rapids Michigan and around the West Michigan area. DeVos has also donated considerable funds to Detroit-area charter schools, some of which have made astonishing differences in the lives of their students.
Among the organizations to which DeVos has contributed are included such names as Compass College of Cinematic Arts, Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning School, Ferris State University, Great Lakes Education Foundation, Grand Rapids Christian Schools, DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland and West Michigan Aviation Academy, a highly innovative charter school that DeVos himself was intimately involved in creating. Many of the schools to which DeVos has contributed have made a real difference in the lives of inner-city youth, allowing disadvantaged children the chance to have a first-rate education and to excel at the fields in which they have shown interest.
For example, the Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning School has demonstrated that it is possible to bring inner-city students up to the same scholastic levels of achievement as their more privileged suburban counterparts. The Detroit Charter School Company New Urban Learning School has a student body that has tested almost 100 percent proficient in all categories of state standardized testing. This is a remarkable achievement, made in the backdrop of Detroit, in which some districts have no students capable of passing standardized test at even the most minimum level.