We teach students how to manage money by giving them real money to manage!

Our student-lead, project-based, learning-by-doing approach is based on Participatory Budgeting, a structured process that empowers students as they grapple with real-world choices in a way that helps prepare them for the financial decisions they will make as independent young adults.

As shown in these videos, students make an incredible impact. At the Academy of American Studies in Queens, NY, students ended up purchasing more feminine care products for the girls' bathrooms, while students at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, CA ended up choosing more outdoor seating for lunch.

If this kind of empowerment sounds appealing, let’s start a conversation of what this might look like for your school and students.

Take a look at what teachers have to say about FirstRoot!

Let's talk about Participatory Budgeting!

Why do Participatory Budgeting in Schools?

Creates a positive civic engagement experience

Strengthens relationships between students

Students get involved and see their ideas get done

Through Participatory Budgeting, students will...

Collaborate with students, leaders & teachers

Develop financial, research and critical thinking skills

Increase awareness of what their school community needs

“It has been so wonderful to see the students' enthusiasm for the opportunity to improve their school while exploring design thinking! They are grappling with the real-world challenges of digging into the costs and logistics of project proposals to evaluate their feasibility.”

Shana Cash
Teacher/Coach at Purdue Polytechnic High School

Frequently Asked Questions

A Participatory Budgeting program can be configured to align with classroom and school needs. Typically, more students and larger budgets take longer to execute.

Classroom programs tend to take one to four weeks.

School-wide programs tend to take one to three months.

The amount of money given to students varies based on your experience with Participatory Budgeting. 

First-time Participatory Budgeting programs typically allocate $2K to $10K to the students. 

As everyone becomes comfortable with the process, the amount of money increases. We've seen individual schools allocate $50K or more and districts allocate more than $1M to PB programs. 

The important point is that you can get started with a very modest amount of money and then build on your success!

The funds for a Participatory Budgeting program come from a variety of sources:

  • The principal's discretionary budget, including ESSER funds
  • The school district budget
  • Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs)
  • Individual parents
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs
  • Grants from organizations like the Rotary or other nonprofits

FirstRoot will help you raise the funds you need for your program.

Teachers and school administrators set the policies, such as the maximum cost of a single proposal or requiring that proposals be used for capital improvements. ​

Student leaders and teachers review all proposals before the final vote to ensure they meet school guidelines. Teachers also control which students can participate. ​

Ready to get started?

Our team is ready to work with you on bringing financial literacy and civics through Participatory Budgeting in your school!

Let's Talk