Equity, Incluision, Community & Coalition Building, and Sustainability
The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world.
Most are at the municipal level, but in other cases, states, counties, schools, universities, housing authorities, and coalitions of community groups have used participatory budgeting to open up spending decisions to democratic participation.
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend the Aldermanic "Menu" Infrastructure Budget. PB gives ordinary people real decision-making power over real money. Through a participatory budgeting (PB) process, discretionary capital funds controlled by Aldermen (“menu money”) are allocated by the community.
Ward residents and stakeholders will propose spending ideas and develop project proposals, residents will vote on projects, and the list of projects that receive the most votes will be submitted to the Alderman and then the City for implementation.
In 2009, 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore launched the first PB process in the US, based on the model developed in Brazil in 1989 and practiced in over 1,500 cities around the world.
Last year over 3,700 people in three wards, one tax increment finance (TIF) district and one high school improved their communities by deciding how to spend over $5 million. This year, PB Chicago is expanding that opportunity to five new wards!
The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) is a non-profit organization that works with governments and organizations to develop participatory budgeting processes.
Our mission is to empower people to decide together how to spend public money. We create and support participatory budgeting processes that deepen democracy, build stronger communities, and make public budgets more equitable and effective.
Participatory Budget Goals
What do we want to accomplish with PB?
We aim for our process to be fair and just, both in the distribution of funds to the areas of most need as well as in the participation of community members. A focus on equitable participation, working harder to engage the most marginalized populations, will lead to a more diverse and representative process.
We strive to include the entire community - especially those who are often excluded from the political process, who face obstacles to participating, or who may feel disillusioned with politics. By making every effort to actively engage these communities and reduce obstacles to participation, we hope to reduce the influence of groups with more resources from dominating the decision-making process, and to generate spending decisions that better reflect the entire community’s needs.
Community & Coalition Building
We work to strengthen our communities and the individuals within them through outreach, education, dialogue, and civic engagement. This process is designed to bring us together to make better budget decisions.
Working together to identify needs, learn about our resources and sharing solutions not only connects individuals to one another, but also creates collaboration across blocks, neighborhoods and organizations inspiring people to work together to improve the community.
We aim to maintain sustainability. Healthy democratic processes require renewal and support for the individuals participating. Through training and workshops as well as expert support, we provide tools and space that allow
communities to develop sustainable projects and leaders.
Our processes provide space for new and existing community leaders to learn and practice skills, build relationships and work together to find sustainable solutions to address community needs.
"It gives ordinary people real power over real money..." - PBP
What is "menu money"?
How does Participatory Budgeting work?
Every year, each of Chicago's 50 wards receive $1.32 million to address their own specific local infrastructure needs through the Aldermanic Menu Program.
The "Aldermanic Menu" funds that are subject to the Participatory Budgeting process can be spent on any project that acquires, develops, maintains or improves a publicly owned capital asset, often called "infrastructure". Projects chosen by the aldermen include often include (but are not limited to) the repair and upgrade of streets, alleys, sidewalks, traffic signals, street lights, parks and playgrounds.
The "Aldermanic Menu" funds cannot be used to subsidize personnel costs, services, programs and other operational costs, nor can they be used to improve privately owned capital assets.
What happens when?