Our Mission

To make a positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged, urban youth by investing in their leaders.

Our Goals

  • Healthy Leaders

    The Need

    To reduce the burnout rate; To reduce the turnover rate

    The Response

    To equip individuals called to work with youth with the personal and spiritual disciplines needed to remain in ministry for the long term.

  • Healthy Organizations

    The Need

    To develop skills for ministry; To address the lack of effective support systems

    The Response

    To provide knowledge, skills and tools that promote healthy ministry organizations. To promote the value of developing and equipping leaders and youth as leaders, inside and outside the ministry.

  • Healthy Communities

    The Need

    To reduce the sense of isolation; To address the lack of positive models for partnering

    The Response

    To support the development of a shared vision amongst those who have a passion for youth and to encourage them to work with others to determine, “What kinds of things can we do better together than alone?”

Statement of Faith

The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative believes that there is one God, the creator and sustainer of all things. Jesus Christ is the son of God and redeemer of sinful humanity. The Bible is the Word of God and through it we are called to live transformed lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. The church is the body of Christ of which Jesus is the head and all recreated people are members. We believe that transformation through Jesus Christ is the foundation for lasting change in any person’s life, including the youth served by our participants.

Our Story

In 1995, Richard DeVos, co-founder of the Amway Corporation, and his wife, Helen, challenged their four children and spouses to work together to develop a philanthropic program based on their shared interests. An intensive discovery process revealed their common passion to be at-risk youth in urban settings.

Once that had been identified, the DeVos family determined that they could make optimal impact not by replicating existing youth programs, but rather by investing in the creation of a leadership development initiative focused on sustaining urban youth workers in ministry while building their capacity to develop effective organizations and to produce leaders. The development process for the initiative included research, interviews and focus groups with local and national ministry leaders and youth workers.

In 1998, the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative was launched in four cities that had been deeply involved in the early stage of curriculum development: Grand Rapids, Phoenix, Orlando, and Boston. A total of thirty-six urban youth ministry leaders from diverse ethnic backgrounds participated.

Since 1998, The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative has conducted training in over thirty-two major urban centers across the United States, and over 1200 urban youth ministry leaders have completed the program. The Initiative remains committed to its goal of investing in the lives of urban youth workers who demonstrate success in working with youth in communities of high poverty and unemployment, and who are positioned for growth and change in their leadership.

Our Staff