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First city-wide participatory budgeting initiative launched

Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the launch of the "Ideas in Action,” Boston’s first citywide participatory budgeting (PB) initiative open to all Boston residents. Residents will have the opportunity to decide how to spend a part of the City’s budget and propose and vote on project ideas that will help benefit the City. Project ideas submitted by residents will be considered for funding and will also help inform future City budget investments. This initiative will be allocated a total of $2 million.

“Participatory budgeting will bring Boston residents and families directly into our democratic process by proposing and selecting projects for a portion of our City budget to fund,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I look forward to the innovative ideas and civic engagement across every generation and neighborhood that this process will open up.”

“I’m so excited to lead our first Participatory Budgeting process, stewarding this new way our residents can get involved in City government,” said Renato Castelo, Director of the Office of Participatory Budgeting. “Our residents’ perspectives will be important to guiding this funding, as well as inform how we spend the rest of our budget. I encourage everyone to get involved.”

This initiative started as a community effort that led Boston voters to approve a ballot measure in the 2021 Municipal Election to create an Office of Participatory Budgeting. The ordinance establishing the Office was adopted by Mayor Wu and the City Council in the spring of 2023.

For this pilot year, the Office of Participatory Budgeting is partnering with community organizations to engage residents who have historically faced barriers to civic participation. With a deadline of July 31, the City is seeking resident input. Individuals can engage by

  • Submitting project ideas online by visiting Boston.gov/participate
  • Calling in and recording ideas through the multilingual PB Phone Line at (617) 635-3059
  • Visiting any public library branch in the City of Boston or City Hall to submit ideas
  • Attending in-person, City-sponsored Idea Collection Workshops organized by nonprofit organizations throughout the City in July. More information can be found at Boston.gov/participate
  • Hosting an Idea Collection Workshop in your community by downloading the PB Workshop Toolkit at Boston.gov/participate

Residents are welcomed to stay Involved on next steps:

  • October - November 2024: Residents will help determine which ideas will make it to the final project ballot by attending Visioning Forums and providing feedback online.
  • January 2025: Residents will vote on their top five project ideas to be funded.
  • February 2025 and onward: Winning projects will be funded. The Office of Participatory Budgeting will share implementation progress on its website and through an annual report.

The Office of Participatory Budgeting, with guidance from its External Oversight Board and public input, formally adopted its Rulebook for the first cycle of the program. The Rulebook outlines the policies and procedures for the participatory budgeting process and will guide the implementation of PB in the City of Boston moving forward. The Rulebook and executive summaries in various languages are available to download at boston.gov/participate.

Participatory Budgeting advances the City’s goals around civic engagement and community collaboration by addressing barriers for public participation and decision making in local government, elevating resident-informed project ideas that reflect their priorities and lived experiences, and bringing communities and city government together to foster a collective vision for Boston.

In Boston, Youth Lead the Change (YLC) was established in 2014 as the City’s first youth-led Participatory Budgeting initiative, which invests $1 million of the City’s capital budget to give young people the power to decide how to spend it for the benefit of their communities.

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