Evans, Dwight

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Since Evans took office in 1980 at age 26, the 203rd Legislative District in Northwest Philadelphia has undergone a transformation. Today, once-blighted neighborhoods along Ogontz Avenue, in West Oak Lane and surrounding areas are thriving, prospering and continuing to grow as a magnet for middle-class jobs, safe schools and economic development. The metamorphosis is rooted in Evans’ commitment to communities and their citizens. His fervor is based on his conviction that representing Philadelphians is a never-to-be-forgotten honor and privilege.

Evans is passionate about creating a 21st century economy in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. To spur economic development, Evans works to build stronger communities by preparing students for a brighter future, making communities safer and expanding healthy choices. He is a national leader in efforts to combat hunger and increase access to quality foods. Evans spearheaded Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which links public and private money to build grocery stores in underserved, rural, urban and suburban areas. The program has encouraged companies to build a growing number of grocery stores – 85 at last count — which are benefiting thousands of families whose previous dietary options were unhealthy and overpriced. The initiative also has created more than 5,000 jobs statewide. The $30 million in seed money has taken root and has been leveraged into projects totaling more than $190 million. The Fresh Food Financing Initiative is recognized as one of the top public policy initiatives in the country, and Evans’ continuing efforts have earned him accolades from the White House and countless community groups across the nation. Evans continues to raise national awareness of the program by speaking at conferences around the country, including a Harvard University webinar. Other states are working hard to emulate Pennsylvania’s success.

Evans believes that good public education is the foundation of a strong economy, thriving communities and successful citizens. He has spoken about education policy to the Brookings Institution and the National Press Club, and participated in a White House roundtable discussion at the request of former President George W. Bush during discussions about No Child Left Behind. Evans believes that investing in education is investing in people and our futures. He is a battle-tested veteran fighting for responsible education funding — from the earliest learners in pre-school to those pursuing advanced degrees or job training. Evans has been the vanguard of fierce Harrisburg budget battles as the Democratic Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a position entrusted to him from 1990 to 2010.

In April 2013, Evans was appointed to the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee by Speaker of the House. At the same time, Evans expects schools to meet stringent standards. He supports choice for parents at the elementary and secondary levels and he penned the state’s Charter School law in 1997. Evans is girded for more battles so the quality of a child’s education does not hinge so much on a student’s zip code or the latest economic downtown.

The national accolades and high praise Evans has reaped belies his strong ties to the community. Evans is no inhabitant of ivory towers, and is much more comfortable at the Taking It to the Streets festivals, job summits and “Friday Nights Out” neighborhood events that have become hallmarks of Evans’ public service. A Philadelphia native and a 1971 graduate of Germantown High School, Evans graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia and LaSalle University. He received an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University. Evans is on the boards of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Concerned Black Men. He also serves as a member of the National Advisory Committee for Leadership for Healthy Communities and co-chairs the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Hunger Partnership.

“My ties to Philadelphia will never slacken and my love for Northwest Philadelphia grows every day,” Evans said.
“Some might say my record has proven my commitment, but I prefer to think the best has yet to come.”

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