Power to the People: Participatory Budgeting as a New Model of Civic Engagement in NYC

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 -
8:30am to 11:00am EDT
New York Foundation, 10 East 34 Street, New York, NY 10th Floor
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Participatory budgeting is a democratic process that gives ordinary people real decision-making power over real money. Community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The process has the potential to transform relationships between elected officials and their constituents, between residents and their communities, and between people and their government.
In New York City, between October 2011 and the end of March 2012, residents in four Council Districts were given the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, craft them into proposals, put them on a ballot, and then vote on their priorities. Thus began a participatory budget process that allowed residents to allocate approximately $6 million of local budgets. While only the second such experiment in the United States, participatory budgeting is seen as a best practice in governance and is already utilized in over 3,000 municipalities around the world. 
Join the four trailblazing City Council Members who are implementing the first participatory budget project in New York, local community leaders, and representatives from national organizations promoting the value of participatory budgeting and exploring ways to institutionalize similar practices in multiple agencies and arenas of city government.


How participatory budgeting has the power to:
  • Make government more transparent and accountable
  • Assist in building community across class and race
  • Boost political participation of marginalized and disenfranchised populations
  • Enhance civic learning, build capacity, and develop new leadership
  • Prioritize dwindling government spending based on local knowledge
  • Utilize technology, arts, and culture to get people involved in government in new ways


Additional resource people will be on hand to answer questions, including Christine Gaspar, Center for Urban Pedagogy, who coordinated the design of materials; Alexa Kasdan, Urban Justice Center's Community Development Project, responsible for research and evaluation; Dan LaTorre, Project for Public Spaces, who arranged the online portal; and Rachel Laforest, Right to the City, who is working with groups across the country interested in taking this initiative to their home communities and cities.
A Philanthropy New York Members Briefing, sponsored by The New York Community Trust, the New York Foundation, and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

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All interested funders.