Participatory Budgeting for Community Colleges- Palo Alto College in San Antonio

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We’re excited to share that Palo Alto College, a community college in San Antonio, is expanding its participatory budgeting process. Representatives from Palo Alto came to our conference in 2013 and were so inspired that they started a PB process for faculty and staff – the first at a community college in the US. This year they have opened the process to students. With a budget of $25,000, the top projects will come to fruition in Spring 2016.

See below for an update from PAC’s blog on the first community college PB process in the US!


 

Palo Alto College students now have the opportunity to propose and vote on how institutional funds are used due to a worldwide project called Participatory Budgeting. Participatory Budgeting is a different way to manage public funds by engaging stakeholders to collaborate and decide how to spend public funds.

“Participatory Budgeting (PB) means a very simple way of showing transparency on how we spend our money, “ said Carmen Velasquez, PAC Participatory Budgeting Core Team Member.

PB started at Palo Alto College in 2013 with groups of faculty and staff. Since then, faculty and staff members have been able to work together to submit project ideas with budgets up to $5,000. Walking around campus, visitors can see the PB process firsthand, such as the Ray Ellison Center bike trail, Palomino Patio near Concho Hall, which were among the handful of projects proposed and voted by faculty and staff.

Now in its fourth cycle, the program has expanded and will now be available for student submissions starting in Fall 2015. A total of $25,000 has been set aside specifically for students to propose and turn ideas into action.

“What we are looking for are projects that benefit the college as a whole,” said Anthony Perez, Participatory Budgeting Core Team Member.

PAC sophomore Robert James Casillas said, “It will be cool to see something on campus and say ‘that was me, my idea or I had a say in that.’”

All PAC students currently enrolled will be allowed to take part in the voting process in the Fall 2015 semester, and the projects with the most votes will be funded and implemented in Spring 2016. However, only student groups and organizations will be able to propose and submit ideas this year.

Currently, Palo Alto College is the only community college in the United States taking part in the Participatory Budgeting process.

“I am really excited to see what the students come up with, I know they are going to be very creative,” said Velasquez.

For more information about Student Participatory Budgeting visit Student Life at Palo Alto College in Student Center Room 124 or call 210-486-3125.

 

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