Congressman Dwight Evans has dedicated his life to the cause of urban renewal, working tirelessly to provide economic and educational opportunity to those who too often live in the shadows, the poor and underserved.
The Congressman’s commitment has resulted in the rebirth of once-blighted neighborhoods along Philadelphia’s Ogontz Avenue, in West Oak Lane, an area that now serves as a magnet for working families.
One of five children, Congressman Evans grew up in North Philadelphia and today lives just minutes from his alma mater, Germantown High School. He is a graduate of the Community College of Philadelphia and LaSalle University. One of his first jobs out of college was as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, shortly thereafter he became a job developer for the Urban League of Philadelphia.
In 1980, at the age of 26, Congressman Evans was first elected State Representative from the 203rd Legislative District. Far from being a “go-along-get-along” legislator, over the course of 36 years in the Pennsylvania Legislature, he earned a reputation as a pragmatic leader who knows how to put public policy above politics.
Congressman Evans made history in 1990 by becoming the first African-American Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, a position he held for two decades. In that role, he was instrumental in helping Philadelphia and communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania receive funding for economic development, job training, education, infrastructure and the arts.
A champion for teachers and innovation in education, Congressman Evans helped start the West Oak Lane Charter School, a unionized school, which has helped teach thousands of kids from grades K-8.
One of Congressman Evans proudest achievements has been his work to combat hunger and increase access to quality foods in underserved communities. During his time in the PA State Legislature, the Congressman created the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which links public and private funds to expand and build grocery stores in food deserts across our state. Through the initiative the Congressman brought nearly 100 grocery stores to underserved areas across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that previously had very limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and created more than 5,000 jobs.
The Fresh Food Financing Initiative was widely recognized as one of the top public policy initiatives in the country. The Obama administration championed Congressman Evans’ approach and used the Pennsylvania initiative as a model for the nation, replicating it in several other states across the country, including California, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Illinois.
In 2013, Congressman Evans released his political biography titled, "Making Ideas Matter: My Life as a Policy Entrepreneur,” written with Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Ecenbarger, and published by the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government.
Over the course of his career in public service, Congressman Evans has lectured around the country on his signature public policy initiatives. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University.