The day before ArtPrize III was to begin, the Calvin Alumni Association’s young business alumni organization hosted founder DeVos and two other panelists at an “Imagination and Innovation” discussion at the college’s Prince Conference Center.
MBA stands for Meeting Business Alumni, and MBA@Calvin chairperson Jeremy Louters ’02 concluded the session by saying, “Most of you know that we give out the Horizon Award each year. This year, we knew our recipient would be a very busy person this fall, so when we had him close by, we thought it wise to present the award now since virtually every person in west Michigan will be vying for his time.
“So, of course, our 2011 Horizon Award recipient is Rick DeVos of the Class of 2004.”
The Horizon Award recognizes outstanding young Calvin alumni business professionals who demonstrate significant contributions to their field and the impact of faith on their work.
Past recipients are David Dorner ’93 of Dorner Works, Brad Haverkamp ’95 of Chase Bank, Amy Ruis ’93 of Art of the Table, and the trio of siblings Heather Van Dyke-Titus ’97 and Jackson ’03 and Barry ’05 Van Dyke of Bear Manor Properties.
After graduating from Calvin with a degree in communications, DeVos began innovating and has yet to stop. ArtPrize became an amazing public conversation about art that has not only changed the local community but has affected the art world at large. It has given city planners much to think about as they attempt collaborations between urban business, art and government.
But DeVos’s work and interests go far beyond ArtPrize, and many of them reflect the “agent of renewal” theme that is associated with Calvin College.
DeVos has also been instrumental in encouraging new business startups in west Michigan through innovative initiatives like Momentum, Pomegranate Studios and the 5x5 Night business idea competition. He is engaged in Boxed Water is Better, an environmentally friendly packaging concept. In addition, he helped found thecommon.org, which seeks to address a widespread headache among churches and other nonprofit groups: volunteer recruitment and management.
DeVos is also active in the community as a board member of ArtPrize, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on Grand Rapids Christian High’s Blue/Black and Calvin College’s Young Leaders in Annual Giving fund-raising councils.
Asked about ArtPrize, DeVos said he wanted “to do something totally different with as few rules as possible and not simply be another version of some previously thought-of public event.”
“I wanted to see crazy crowds of people in downtown Grand Rapids, and that’s exactly what’s happened.
“The goal is engagement,” he said, “with a totally open platform.”
DeVos was on an innovation panel with Momentum director Mike Morin and 5x5 winner Kelly LeCoy ’11, whose new business startup, Uptown Kitchen, a shared-space commercial kitchen, is getting under way.
All three panelists noted that west Michigan needs to improve as a place that encourages innovative ideas, so that the area would be known for its availability of guidance, mentorship and “first check writers” to creative entrepreneurs.