West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an innovative trade school. The school is an outgrowth of the passion Dick and Betsy DeVos feel for the fields of education and aviation. In 2010, the school opened up with just 80 students. Today, the school has a new building with capacity for 500 students. The philosophy of the West Michigan Aviation Academy is that each student is unique and has the potential to build a successful life. Students there learn by doing.
West Michigan Aviation Academy is a public charter high school, which means that students do not have to pay tuition. The school is notable for its focus on aviation, its acceptance of diversity, and its high standards for academic achievement and personal behavior. Throughout its history, the school has performed in the top 10% of all high schools in Grand Rapids annually. The school’s slogan is, “A high school where attitude meets altitude.”
Dick and Betsy DeVos were the driving forces behind the founding of the school. Dick is a well-known businessman and entrepreneur. He is president of the Windquest Group. In the past, he served as Vice President for Amway-International. Additionally, he was President and CEO of the Orlando Magic beginning in 1991. Dick DeVos believes in public service, and this school is an extension of that. With encouragement from his wife, he found the motivation to start this school.
Dick and Betsy DeVos have been involved in political and educational campaigns in the past. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation grants funds to organizations including the American Education Reform Council, Choices for Children, and Children First America. He has served on the Michigan State Board of Education, and also ran for governor in 2006. The DeVoses believe that education is a key to stimulating development in the Grand Rapids area.