FirstRoot is dedicated to promoting Participatory Budgeting (PB) in schools. Read any two paragraphs from this website, and we hope that message comes shining through. Our not-so-secret plan to improve the world is to empower students by giving them a say in the school budgeting process. Through PB, FirstRoot invites young people to have a seat at the planning table and an impact in the rooms where things happen.
But remove the money, and the goal of teaching adolescents how to manage their financial futures, one word summarizes our mission: inclusion. We are dedicated to including the stakeholders who had little or no say in how schools spend their budgets. Put another way, we want every student to be heard and have the experiences that only PB can offer. That passion for inclusion extends to our DEAI practices and goals. We’re dedicated to creating an environment where unique perspectives are celebrated.
That’s not just a feel-good belief: It’s a best practice backed by data. Research shows that economic equality benefits everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status (“The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Wilksinson and Pickett). That’s why, when we founded FirstRoot to champion PB programs, we embraced DEAI principles from the start.
Students are welcome to participate in PB programs, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, (dis)ability status, and political perspective. Actually, well-designed online experiences increase diversity and inclusion because they can prevent harmful stereotypes based on physical experience or the sound of a person’s voice.
Many expressions of equity focus on physical attributes, such as skin color, or lifestyle choices (i.e., as marriage). While vital to address, school programs often fail to consider the deep, structural inequities associated with money, economics and class. In PB, each student, regardless of socioeconomic status has a voice. In today’s United States, this kind of equality is almost impossible to achieve.
FirstRoot is committed to maintaining the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. That includes ensuring that students, teachers, and school administrators have easy access to our programs, removing barriers to accessibility and meeting needs promptly in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
In addition, FirstRoot voluntarily complies with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA (“WCAG-2.0 AA”), a set of procedures adopted by a private group to maximize the accessibility of web content.
School PB programs provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to children that different perspectives are welcomed, that respectful deliberation and dialog create better outcomes for everyone. Ultimately, PB produces authentic diversity experiences that improve the community.