East Boston Youth to Help Mayor Walsh with City Budget

March 18, 2014
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Mayor Martin Walsh will be reaching out to East Boston youth to ask them how they would like to see a portion of the city’s budget spent.

On Wednesday (today) from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Paris Street Community Center, the Mayor and his budget team will sit down with Eastie youth for the first-ever participatory budgeting process. The youth invited to the meeting will share their ideas for how to spend $1 million in City capital funds.

“Young people in Boston have a pulse on what is vibrant, exciting, and important to the future of our city,” said Walsh. “Youth Lead the Change provides them a way to have a voice in their local government and make important funding decisions.”

Throughout April and May, a youth committee will review ideas, and youth in Eastie and throughout Boston will be able to vote on their favorites to be funded this fall.

One of the few cities to adopt a direct democracy approach to budgeting, Boston is the first city in the nation to implement a participatory budgeting program targeted specifically towards youth. This program is called Youth Lead the Change. Led by Shari Davis of the Department of Youth Engagement & Employment, the City organized a steering committee of 30 local youth organizations to help design and oversee the process.

“Youth Lead the Change is the first of its kind in the entire country! This is super exciting for Boston,” said Teena-Marie Johnson, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee.  “Young people all across the city work so hard to ensure that youth voices are at the center of decision making and this process is a step in the right direction.”

Youth can also submit ideas on-line at boston.citizinvestor.com/.

Ideas submitted on-line and through the assemblies will be reviewed by a group of volunteer “Change Agents” ages 12-25, in consultation with design and construction experts. During this stage projects may be combined, modified or dropped, based on further research and feedback.

In June, the Change Agents will present a ballot with the final project proposals and Boston residents ages 12-25 will vote on which projects they want to see funded. The top vote-getting projects that add up to $1,000,000 will be submitted to the Mayor’s Office for approval.

“Youth Lead the Change empowers youth, teaches them about the budget, and provides them with an opportunity in shaping the city around them,” said Will Fan, Co-chair of the Steering Committee. “We hope that through this process more young people will realize their values and inject their vigor into the city to build a more healthy and tight-knit community.”

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