In 2010, Dick DeVos founded a public charter school called West Michigan Aviation Academy. The philanthropic billionaire started the tuition-free school after receiving his wife’s encouragement. Today, the school has grown steadily and is slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the education sector.
The school’s beginning can be traced back to the passion that the DeVos family shares about education and aviation. Dick DeVos is a licensed pilot and loves flying, a factor that may have largely contributed to his decision to start an aviation school in his home state of Michigan. The school is located on the same grounds that house the great Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
When the school opened its doors in 2010, it only admitted 80 freshmen in its 25,000 square-foot office space that was renovated to accommodate the academy. However, not long after the first admission, expansion plans had already been drafted to allow the school accommodate more students.
Experienced Rapid Growth
During the 2012-2013 academic calendar, the academy’s population of 240 students consisting of juniors, freshmen and sophomores relocated to a brand new 42,500 square-foot building. The expansion of the school also included the introduction of new courses and aviation programs.
The 2013-2014 academic year saw the enrollment of nearly 400 students. It also saw the graduation of the school’s first class of 2014. The academy is headed by a chief Executive Officer called Pat Cwayna.
Dick DeVos was born in Michigan and still lives in the state to date. In fact, most of his philanthropic endeavors are based in Michigan. He is the former Amway Corp president and a 2006 contender of the state’s gubernatorial race but emerged second to Jennifer Granholm, the then incumbent governor.
Dick DeVos is currently involved in The Windquest Group. He is also heavily involved in his family’s foundation called Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation and serves as its vice-president. Dick and Betsy support education, religious based causes, arts, free-market economics, civic leadership and pollution study.