Dick DeVos cold called AirTran Airways CEO in 1991 with the objective of turning around the state of the Grand Rapid’s airport. The call that led to the CEO of the low-cost carrier to meet with DeVos yielded to the Grand Rapids Airport running nonstop flights at a cheaper rate.
After a few months of the turnaround, AirTran Airways was acquired by the Southwest Airlines. DeVos convinced the new employers to hold onto the nonstop flights that had routes to Baltimore and Orlando; this was after a long debate with the board who were hesitant about it.
After continued deliberations over the years, the Southwest Airlines decided to add more flights in 2013 to St. Louis, Orlando and Baltimore. After that, the Grand Rapid’ airport grew more than ever, and the management decided to plan for upgrades that spurred to about $45 million; the upgrades are to be completed in 2018. Some of the features that are being upgraded include the security check-in, restaurants, new restrooms and business centers.
DeVos’s influence did not stop there, Betsy DeVos, who is currently the U.S Education Secretary has had tremendous influence in different sectors just like her husband. Betsy DeVos has been influential in philanthropy and education reforms which have been her biggest initiative.
Her desire to help children from low-income families to gain access to education options just like the priviledged children was inspired her to march on to the expansion of charter schools.
As much as Betsy and Dick had their strengths in different initiatives, they were both strong in philanthropy. From 1989 to 2015, a whopping $138.7 million was donated by the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation to churches, education centered policy initiatives, health and human services, leadership programs and ars& culture.
The couple also donated $12.5 million towards the construction of the children’s Home Hospital Spectrum Health System that cost $103 million. The new infrastructure provides families with the opportunity of receiving treatment while their children are at home instead of leaving work to take their kids to the clinic.
As much as they have had their successes, they have also been ushered with some failures. For instance, in 2000, Betsy DeVos had a proposal to create a tax-funded voucher education program for children from low-income households to attend private schools; this was rejected by the voters.
In 2006, Dick DeVos stepped up to run for the governor seat against incumbent Jennifer Granholm; sadly, he lost after running an expensive campaign. Even though failure was imminent, Betsy never gave up on her educational reforms. Instead of sticking around, Betsy took her strategic advocacy program for private school voucher to other states. 24 states together with the District of Columbia adopted the voucher program for private schools.
Betsy’s passion for seeing that the advocacy program was working is the reason as to why President of the U.S.A, Donald Trump appointed her as the U.S Secretary of Education.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/ to learn more.