FirstRoot Participatory Budgeting Conference

Collaborate to empower students around the world to use participatory budgeting to make an impact in their schools and communities!


FirstRoot and partners invite you to a one-day conference to learn and collaborate to empower students around the world to use democratic financial decision making to invest in their schools and communities!

Students and Teacher working on a project

What is Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which empowers community members organize and decide how to spend part of a public budget.

When: The conference will take place virtually over 24 hours, beginning at GMT 0, June 22, 2021.

Who: Anyone interested in making a difference in their communities through the power of collaborative financial decision making is invited! This will be an invaluable event for students, educators, and change-makers!

What: FirstRoot presents a 24-hour virtual conference, featuring keynote speakers and engaging sessions on the topics of civics, financial literacy, community engagement, technical implementations, and more.

Why: FirstRoot is on a mission to put the power in the hands of the most important stakeholders – students! Through participatory budgeting, students have the power to make a difference not only in their schools, but also in their communities and the world at large. Power may come from money, BUT CHANGE COMES FROM YOU!

How: Sessions will be 1-hour long and will be facilitated over the course of 24-hours via Zoom, with breakout sessions and interactive demos taking place in Welo. Details will be sent via email to registered attendees.

Happy students

Meet Our Incredible Speakers

Luke Hohmann

Talk: Introducing FirstRoot – Participatory Budgeting in Schools

Luke is one of the world’s leading experts on applying Participatory Budgeting at scale, both in communities and in business settings. Prior to founding FirstRoot, Luke started Conteneo, an enterprise software platform for collaborative decision making based on game theory. The author of four books, Luke has been cited as an inventor in more than a dozen patents and is an internationally recognized expert in Agile Software Development.

Participatory Budgeting Expert Don Waisanen

Don Waisanen

Talk: How to Hold Participatory Budgeting to Its Promises

Don Waisanen is a Professor in the Baruch College, CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. He is the co-author (with Daniel Williams) of Real Money, Real Power? The Challenges with Participatory Budgeting in New York City (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Elizabeth Dudley

Talk: FirstRoot Implementation

Liz Dudley is the Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA) and Social Studies Teacher at Academy of American Studies, an American History high school founded by Gilder Lehrman. As COSA, Liz is responsible for coordinating with Student Government/Leadership students, parents and administration on student activities, student opportunities/internships and domestic trips. Student Government has previously partnered with Civics for All and their Participatory Budgeting program. This was the first time, Student Government has worked with First Root and their online Participatory Budgeting app!

Donovan Colquitt

Talk: Learn How to Partner with FirstRoot to Make an Impact with Participatory Budgeting

Donovan, Director of Strategic Partnerships at FirstRoot, is a leading advocate for improving college access and workforce success for minoritized individuals pursuing STEM pathways. He is the author of “The Scholar’s Key: How You Can Unlock Your Dreams as a Teen,” which he wrote in high school.

Haris Aziz

Talk: Fair and Representative Participatory Budgeting

Haris Aziz is a Scientia Associate Professor at UNSW Sydney. He works at the interface of computer science and economics, and is especially interested in fair decision making. He is an associate editor of several major journals in AI and is a recipient of several research awards including IEEE AI 10 to Watch.

Taylor Spratt

Talk: Connecting Participatory Democracy with Social Justice Efforts

Taylor is a MS candidate in Comparative & International Ed at Florida International University. Passionate about social change, her interdisciplinary work explores participatory democracy, solidarity & care. A feminist educator, she facilitates spaces for dialogue and practice of “real utopias.”

Harry Max

Talk: Open the Aperture

Harry Max is a Silicon Valley executive coach, consultant, and leader, and has worked with companies like AllClear ID, Apple, DreamWorks, Google, Rackspace, SAP, and SGI. As co-founder of Virtual Vineyards (now, he designed the first secure and user-friendly on-line store, which launched in January 1995.

Product design leader with a solid grasp on operations, Harry Max is a hands-on servant leader helping teams and technology organizations scale to meet extraordinary challenges; former founder / CEO and executive; currently writing a book on prioritization.


The FirstRoot Participatory Budgeting Conference is a diverse, inclusive, accessible, and equitable event where all speakers, staff, volunteers, and participants whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability, feels valued and respected. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard. We’re committed to modeling diversity and inclusion for the entire participatory budgeting movement, and to maintaining an inclusive environment with equitable treatment for all.


Would you like to try Participatory Budgeting in your school?

Join our free pilot program.


Would you like to try Participatory Budgeting in your school?

Join our free pilot program.