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Celebrating this year’s biggest wins: revitalizing democracy in 2020


Happy Holidays from all of us at PBP! After a busy 2019 launching exciting new projects like Democracy Beyond Elections and PBCan, and working with incredible communities like students in Merced and educators in NYC, we took some time in November, during our staff retreat, to look at the big picture.

We want to extend a big thank you to all of you who made Giving Tuesday a huge success. We’ve raised over $11,000, bringing us more than halfway to our $20,000 fundraising goal for December 31. Give today – let’s re-ignite democracy together!

2019 Highlights

This year has been full of big wins for us!

PB for Community Based Transportation Plan in San Francisco

After an advocacy campaign with Public Advocates, we got CalTrans (the California Transportation Agency) to recommend PB for community transportation grants. Last week, the first PB process for state transportation funds was completed successfully! San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) approved the project list for the Bayview Community Based Transportation Plan PB funding.

PBP was selected for an award for public communication in transportation from the Transportation Research Board this year, due in large part to our work on the Bayview PB process.

Largest per capita PB process in North America launches in Atlanta.

This fall, Atlanta City Council Member Amir Farokhi launched a million dollar PB process in Atlanta. The process, called Downtown Decides, is shaping up to be the largest per capita PB process ever in North America. Community members will decide how to spend $27 per district resident – that’s nearly twice as much as any other city PB in the US. Atlanta residents can submit their proposals through Find out more details on the process here and here.

PB is expanding to schools and districts across the US.

Schools, school districts, and colleges around the world are using participatory
budgeting (PB) to engage students, parents, educators, and staff in deciding how
to spend a part of the school budget. PB develops student leadership, supports student and school success, lifts up student and parent voice, and involves the entire school in meaningful civic experiences. That’s why we’re excited to announce the expansion of PB in schools in Arizona, California, New York and Texas. Find out more about how to bring PB to your school.
  • In Arizona, PB expands to new school districts.
  • In Merced, PB launched in 2 schools.
  • In New York, PB expands to 150 schools.
  • In Texas, PB expands to the Dallas Independent School District.

Thank you for your help selecting us via the SXSWEdu Panel Picker

as presenters at the 2020 SXSW Edu Conference and Festival. In this experiential workshop, participants will actually experience a school PB process, hear about lessons learned from the past decade, and delve into how you can launch PB in your school/district. We can’t wait to bring the magic of real money, real power to Austin. Join us by registering here!

PBP Co-ED and Obama Fellow Shari was in Chicago in November, meeting personal heroes (like Billy Porter, pictured at right) and growing her leadership skills. We love an ongoing win!


Leadership Change at PBP

In April 2020, Josh Lerner will step down as Co-Executive Director at PBP and transition out of PBP. Co-ED Shari Davis will remain as Executive Director. He’s not going far though! Josh will switch to working full-time on the Global PB Hub. The new organization will provide the international expertise and support that leaders need to grow participatory democracy programs in their countries. Read Josh’s letter on the transition here.

“That’s expanding democracy!”

Crowd of people with some raising their hands. Caption: How Participatory Budgeting is Improving Democracy, Shari Davis

Building a New America podcast host Jonathan Arias is concerned with addressing

one main question: how do the laws we have in place shape our lives today? Recently, PBP was featured on an episode entitled “How Participatory Budgeting is Improving Democracy with Obama Fellow Shari Davis”.

During this episode, Shari and Jonathan talked about the limitations of democracy, the ways language and access create barriers to participation, as well as how equity improves outcomes. Check out the episode for some of Shari’s favorite PB projects and a truly intriguing conversation!

Help us launch PBP into 2020 with a contribution: 

Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to a couple generous donors.
Can we count on you to transform democracy in 2020 and beyond?  Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 5.40.14 PM IMG-6516_edited IMG-6518_edited

We need you to help us re-vitalize, re-vive, re-define a democracy that works for everyone, will you make a gift today?

Download a sign to join the conversation!

Fill in the blank with your commitment and post it with the hashtag #participatorybudgeting

Featured in TIME for Kids – “Kids Decide”

Our Co-ED’s Shari and Josh were featured in a recent TIME for Kids article on how participatory budgeting is empowering young people and serving as a model for wide participation. Check it out and share with all of the parents, kids, and educators in your life! Read the full article >>

Coming soon: An Online Resource for PB in Schools

It’s no surprise that some of the most innovative, impactful, and a creative participatory budgeting project proposals we have encountered have come from PB in schools. Young people have a particular talent for seeing what is possible, and PB in schools is an opportunity to channel that energy into some pretty incredible work.

That’s why we have been hard at work in the PBP Lab, creating an online course for educators who are ready to plan and implement PB at their school. We anticipate offering a pilot course in Spring 2020. We can’t wait to introduce this work to educators in the field, gather feedback, and launch later this year!

If you have questions, or you are an educator and want to be a part of the pilot program, please email Antonnet,

In the News:

Reimagining public safety by spending more for people and less on police budget will actually decrease crime, Milwaukee Independent |  In this striking Op-ed Rick Banks of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) and Devin Anderson of the African-American Roundtable make the case for divesting from policing and investing in community power. As they put it, “[t]he city should also dedicate a portion of these funds to be allocated via participatory budgeting, a process that would seek input from all residents on how the funds should be spent.”

Participatory Budgeting Underway in 49th Ward, Roger’s Edge Reporter | Chicago’s 49th ward just held their tenth year of participatory budgeting voting! This amazing process is underway and gives residents as young as 14 a chance to vote on proposals to improve their communities.

School Lab Funded By Participatory Budgeting Debuts On UES, Patch | Love to see the projects planted through participatory budgeting processes bloom! “Students at an Upper East Side public school will have the chance to learn about issues such as sustainability and enhance their science skills at a brand-new lab facility funded through participatory budgeting.”


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PBP helps communities decide how to improve using public money.

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