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What is participatory budgeting?

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What is PB?

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. It gives people real power over real money.

PB started in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, as an anti-poverty measure that helped reduce child mortality by nearly 20%. Since then PB has spread to over 7,000 cities around the world, and has been used to decide budgets from states, counties, cities, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions.

The New York Times calls PB “revolutionary civics in action”—  it deepens democracy, builds stronger communities, and creates a more equitable distribution of public resources.

Where is PB happening?

PBP has worked directly with civic leaders in dozens of cities and institutions in the US and Canada to plan and run PB processes, and our work has inspired dozens more processes. Click here or see below for a map of where PB is happening and for more detailed profiles of a few key processes.

The “widgets” located to the right of the map allow you to visualize different classes of data.

  • By default the processes that took place in every year show up, which means that ones that have had several cycles will be stacked on top of each other. You can choose any particular year by clicking on one that’s listed or using the search function if you’re looking for a year that’s not in the list.
  • You can view a count of how many PB processes took place that satisfy the conditions chosen by your widgets and that are located within the portion of the map you are currently viewing.
  • Try selecting one year and zooming in to your own neighborhood to find active or pending PB processes in your community. Click on it to find more info.

The map is linked to the database that PBP maintains to try to track every PB process in the U.S. and Canada. Inevitably some PB processes aren’t on our radar. If you know that PB exists somewhere not seen on our map, or you have additional data about a PB process, please fill out this form to let us know!

PB Impacts

Doing participatory budgeting (PB) sparks a variety of powerful, lasting impacts across a community.

Stronger civil society:

New community leaders:

More equitable and effective public spending:

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