In January 2014, the City of Boston launched the first youth participatory budgeting process in the US, which allows teens and young adults to decide how to spend $1 million of the city’s capital budget. Through this process, called Youth Lead the Change: Participatory Budgeting Boston, youth propose ideas for improving their communities, develop the ideas into concrete proposals, and vote on the best ways to make Boston a better place. Young people also play a central role in the Youth Lead the Change Steering Committee, which oversees the process and determines its rules and structure. This pilot process ran from January to June 2014 and is a collaboration between PBP, the City of Boston, the Mayor’s Youth Council, and Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
The City of Boston contracted PBP to provide technical assistance during the planning and implementation of the City’s first participatory budgeting cycle. We convened a Steering Committee comprised of thirty local organizations and institutions, and led the group through a series of participatory rule-making workshops to decide the basic structure and rules of the process. On an ongoing basis, we develop tools and guide materials for city staff and participants; provide trainings for participants, facilitators, and outreach volunteers; prepare educational and publicity materials; and offer technical guidance to City staff. We also hired a full-time Youth Organizer and part-time Lead Organizer to assist the City in its outreach efforts and to support the sustained participation of young people in the process.
Franklin Park Playground and Picnic Area Upgrade $400,000
This project will include infrastructure upgrades and repairs to the American Legion Picnic Grove playground to better serve children with disabilities. Renovations will include the following: 1) installation of exercise equipment for park goers of all ages (pending community and landmark approvals), 2) swings, modern slides, monkey bars, a jungle gym and go-green exercise equipment, 3) benches positioned closer to play area; parents will be able to monitor children, and 4) the resurfacing of playground foundation; softer grounds for safety precaution purposes.
Boston Art Walls $60,000
Designated Free Wall Space will be provided for local graffiti writers and other visual artists to showcase their artwork. Volunteers and local youth organizations will help designate additional free wall spaces, as well as provide ongoing maintenance.
Chromebooks for High Schools in East Boston, South Boston, and Charlestown $90,000
The students of East Boston High School, Charlestown High School, and Excel High School will receive approximately 30 Chromebook laptops. This will enhance student performance by providing them with the latest technology, allowing them to easily acquire information for academic assignments.
Skate Park Feasibility Study $50,000
A feasibility study will be conducted in the Dorchester, South Boston, and East Boston neighborhoods to explore the most sustainable methods of design and ongoing care for implementation of a skate board park.
Security Cameras for Dr. Loesch Family Park $110,000
Dr. Loesch Family Park and surrounding premises will receive 15 to 20 surveillance cameras to increase security and protection within the community.
Paris Street Playground Extreme Makeover $100,000
Paris Street Playground will receive additional, new creative water features, as well as USB park benches and handicap accessible infrastructures.
New Sidewalks for New Parks $105,000
Boston’s newly-renovated Howes Playground and Mount Pleasant Park will receive sidewalk and lighting improvements around the perimeter of both locations.
- Youth Lead the Change PB Rulebook
- Official press release for the process launch
- Official press release for the results of the vote and highlights video
- Youth Lead the Change Ballot
- Project partners: Mayor’s Youth Council and Boston Centers for Youth and Family
- Facebook and Twitter