What comes to mind when you think of who leads our democracy?
Too often, we don’t imagine people in positions of power who actually reflect the diverse communities they serve. This especially holds true for historically marginalized communities, including people of color, immigrants, low-income people, youth, people with disabilities, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
In preparation for Giving Tuesday, December 3rd, the largest international day of giving, we celebrate three leaders who are disrupting this narrative and using PB to rebuild a democracy made by and for real people.
Meet Stephen Lafume – Boston, MA
Stephen Lafume left in photo at Youth Lead the Change meeting in Boston, Massachusetts
Stephen (left in photo) had been involved with his local youth council since he was 12 but first learned about PB when his community center held an idea collection assembly. After that, he was hooked. He signed up to be a Change Agent with Boston’s Youth Lead the Change, an initiative where youth were tasked to decide how to spend $1 million. He and his fellow Youth Change Agents met monthly to comb through over 300 ideas, and brought thousands of community members to vote on 12 proposals.
Young leaders like Stephen are re-imagining democracy by activating youth to be leaders now, not tomorrow.
Meet Sol Rivas – Merced, CA
Sol Rivas speaking at a community march and rally in Merced, California. Photo credit: Building Healthy Communities Merced
Many of the over 50,000 diverse residents in Merced, California, a rural agricultural county, face significant challenges: high rates of poverty, linguistic and political isolation, and lack of access to health care. Historically they have had few spaces to decide how to tackle these issues. Sol Rivas (pictured left) is committed to changing that with PB.
In 2017, Sol (Hub Manager of Building Healthy Communities Merced), County Supervisor Lee Lor, and local partners pioneered the first US use of county funds for PB, re-energizing community members to have direct decision-making power in how to meet their community’s needs. Supported by Sol’s commitment, Merced has completed two PB cycles and is now piloting PB in two Merced schools this year where students as young as 10 years old will decide how to invest in their school communities.
Community leaders like Sol are re-invigorating democracy in rural communities and schools.
Meet Kenny Medrano – Queens, NY
Kenny Medrano pictured front row, second from left with other PB participants in Queens, New York
Kenny first heard about PB through a public event flyer and was excited about deciding how to spend $1 million in his predominantly Latinx district in NYC. He was shocked when he arrived and was the only Latinx constituent who showed up. Kenny (pictured front row, second from left) realized just how important it was for the people who make decisions to reflect the communities they serve and has been involved with PB for as Director of PB for the local City Council Member, Citywide steering committee member, and a PB participant.
Local leaders like Kenny are re-distributing power amongst the most marginalized communities in the district he grew up in.