Over nearly 10 years, we’ve shown that participatory budgeting (PB) is a powerful tool for transforming our democracy. In 2018 we invested in making PB better and bigger. We developed new resources, supported innovative programs, and expanded what real democracy can be. Check out our 2018 highlights below, and please make an end of year donation if you can help grow this work.

1. We led a movement for participatory democracy

We built a broader movement for democracy beyond elections, by convening leaders, forging partnerships, and producing and sharing powerful content.


Conference: We co-organized an international conference bringing together leaders from 18 countries and 75 cities to build a more participatory democracy. Innovations in Participatory Democracy included 45 sessions on citizen juries, equity and inclusion, civic tech, participatory justice, action civics, and more.


Video: We partnered with PBS’ acclaimed documentary series POV on the release of Public Money, a stunning film by Meerkat Media Collective. The 15-minute film follows community members in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood as they launch PB in their district.


Research: We supported new research that shows that people who take part in PB are 7% more likely to vote in elections. These findings confirm what we’ve been hearing for years: PB inspires participants to get more engaged in the civic life of their communities.


Rock Stars: If you can’t dance, it’s not our revolution! Since we can’t change democracy without arts and culture, we interviewed Will Butler, from Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire, about why he shows up for PB - and why you should too!


Webinars: We hosted webinars on PB in schools, on democratic innovations from around the world, and on a fascinating report on lessons from the first 30 years of PB, funded by The Hewlett Foundation and Omidyar Network.

2. We won BIG PB in NYC


After eight years of organizing with amazing partners, we won huge victories in NYC, raising the bar for PB around the world. First, Mayor Bill de Blasio included PB in his “Civics for All” initiative, committing to launch PB in all 400+ public high schools across the city. Then, we got the Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission to approve a ballot proposal mandating citywide PB. Finally, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted YES on the ballot proposal!

The new citywide PB process should more than double the amount of money allocated via PB in the US, potentially becoming the largest PB process in the world. It also shows a new way to win PB - put it on the ballot, and voters will approve!

3. We grew PB around the world

We served as an expert advisor to innovative PB processes, providing training, coaching, and resources to deliver success and grow the field.

  • Rochester, NY: We’re supporting the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) in launching a groundbreaking PB process for New York State’s Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative —the first PB with anti-poverty funds!
  • Denver, CO: We coached a unique arts-based PB process in Denver, led by “civic health club” Warm Cookies of the Revolution and funded by ArtPlace America.
  • Phoenix & Chandler, AZ: We supported the Phoenix Union High School District in engaging 10,242 students in PB for school district funds, and in registering 786 students to vote. In Chandler, we worked with the Center for the Future of Arizona to launch PB in three middle schools and two high schools.
  • Merced County, CA: We helped grow the first PB process in the U.S. for county funds into its second year, engaging more young people and supporting resident volunteers in leading the steering committee.
  • Vancouver, BC: We partnered with the City to launch an innovative pilot in the West End neighborhood using PB to allocate parking fee revenues.
  • Sweden: We assisted the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions in a national program to expand PB across cities and schools, with a focus on engaging marginalized communities.

4. We built award-winning civic tools

Our Participation Lab developed innovative tools to make PB easier and more equitable.

  • CONSUL: We’re upgrading the design and technology of PB by experimenting with CONSUL, a open-source digital tool that connects citizens to governments. It’s the most comprehensive platform yet for PB in North America, and we’re piloting it now!
  • myPB: We developed a new data tool to make it easier to track PB projects and outcomes, thanks to funding from the Booth Ferris Foundation. myPB tracks projects that make it to the PB ballot, helping advocates understand and assert community needs, and revealing how funds are spent differently when the public decides. It won top awards from NYC Open Data!.
  • Arts + Participatory Budgeting Toolkit: We created an awesome guide with Arts & Democracy and the design company Hector. With examples from around the US and Canada, it shares ideas on how to use arts to make your PB process more engaging and meaningful.

5. We made our organization stronger

We expanded our leadership and added top expertise to our staff and boards. In April, Shari Davis joined Josh Lerner as Co-Executive Directors. Together they are building the multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-generational leadership that our organization and our democracy need.

We also welcomed four new staff and over a dozen new board and advisory board members, boosting our skills in design, communications, fundraising, education, and finance.

And most importantly, more and more of you stepped up to support PB. Hundreds of you have donated already this year, and dozens have committed monthly support as PB Amplifiers.  

As we reset for 2019, we look forward to growing our democracy with community leaders like you!

PBP Team

Our work is only possible due to the generous support of individuals, public funding, and our foundation partners: