PB in Schools

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. School PB develops student leadership, supports student and school success, lifts up student and family voice, and involves the entire school in meaningful civic experiences.

This is “revolutionary civics in action” — participants learn democracy by doing it.

Active civic learning provides youth for a lifetime of knowledgeable, engaged, active citizenship which is vital to the health of our democracy. Participatory budgeting is an impactful strategy for active civic learning.

Given the political landscape and emphasis on engaged citizenry, the time is right for schools and districts to adopt PB as a vital component of a stronger, more comprehensive education program.

Introducing Community Leadership through Civics in Action: Bringing Participatory Budgeting to Your School

If you’re an educator looking to bring action civics to your school, to engage students and families in a process that gives them the power to make decisions that help shape the school community, and even to meet local and federal engagement standards... this course is for you!

Our new online course supports educators through the details of planning, launching, and implementing a successful PB process in their schools, rooted in principles of participatory democracy, and applicable to any K-12 educator bringing participatory budgeting to their school community.
Access the first two modules for free, covering the basics of school PB including: What is PB and how does PB work in schools? Where has school PB been done? What are the principles of PB in schools? And what are the impacts on schools and students?

Sign up today and we’ll e-mail you the link to get a small taste of the course!

Why do PB in Schools?

PB supports students learning and development

  • Students learn lifelong habits of civic participation
  • PB increases students’ sense of social responsibility
  • Students gain confidence in themselves and their ability to effect change
  • Students learn critical career and life skills including:
    • Collaboration
    • Research, interviewing, & surveying
    • Problem-solving and critical thinking
    • Public speaking
    • Financial literacy

PB strengthens school communities

  • Students and families become more actively invested in the school community
  • PB fosters better relationships between students, families, teachers, and administration
  • PB results in more effective school spending
  • PB generates new ideas to address school and community needs

What types of schools are doing PB?

PB is happening at every level of schooling, from elementary through college! Here are some examples of PB in:

Elementary Schools: P.S. 139 in Brooklyn, NY is doing PB with students & their families to decide how to use Parent Association and school funds. Read more here.

High School Districts: The Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona launched the first PB process in the US using district-wide funds. Read more here.

Colleges: City University of New York (CUNY) students in two colleges are allocating a portion of student government funds and other school fees through PB. Read more here.

What types of budgets are used for PB?

PB requires the school or district administration to set aside a pot of funds to use for PB. The larger and more impactful the budget, the more invested participants will be in the PB process and the school community.

  • School district budgets
  • School budgets
  • Principal’s discretionary funds
  • PTA budgets
  • School government budgets
  • Student activity funds

Want to learn more?

Watch our PB in Schools video

A deep dive into the a real PB process in Phoenix, AZ, this video is an opportunity to hear directly from the students and the adults around them how and why PB is civics in action, and how PBP can help you bring PB to your school, district, or community!

Download the free “Guide to Participatory Budgeting in Schools”

A series of lesson plans for high schools, which can be modified for all age levels.

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Get the PB in Schools Guide in your inbox:

Sign up for free access to part of our new online course for educators.

Community Leadership through Civics in Action:  Bringing Participatory Budgeting to Your School

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What types of budgets are used for PB?

PB requires the school or district administration to set aside a pot of funds to use for PB. The larger and more impactful the budget, the more invested participants will be in the PB process and the school community.

  • School district budgets
  • School budgets
  • Principal’s discretionary funds
  • PTA budgets
  • School government budgets
  • Student activity funds
What types of schools are doing PB?
We don’t have “extra” funds. How can I do PB in my school or district?
Can PB help engage our broader school community, like parents and families?
How do school districts benefit from PB?
How does PB align with U.S. civics education standards and mandates?
How does PB align with U.S. engagement mandates?