Published On: November 17, 2021
Home>Financial Education, Participatory Budgeting>Participatory Budgeting: A Simple Description

First For You

Why does this matter to you?

Principals — Financial literacy and civics are both topics your students need, but they often take a backseat to literacy and math. What if there was a simple way to include these subjects in a hands-on, experiential fashion using real money and real results? Participatory budgeting is exactly that — read on to learn more.

Parents and PTAs — You want the best possible education for your students, and that includes lessons that last far past school walls. Participatory budgeting is a tried-and-true tool to teach the value of both financial literacy and civic engagement in a hands-on, experiential fashion. It allows students to make a real difference in their school too, ensuring learners will be captivated by every step of its process.

Partners — Looking for a way to make a difference in the worlds of financial literacy and civic engagement for students? Participatory budgeting is simple and effective, and it leads to lifelong results. It puts kids in charge of real money and real decisions, showing them the value of their dollar and that of their voice.

We get it: We’re under financial stress. Everywhere!

Financial distress is all too common in our world today. 77% of Americans report feeling anxious about money, and 32% of the cities they live in are struggling, too. It’s clear that our current budgeting tools and knowledge are not up to par, but how can we improve? At FirstRoot, we believe the answer lies in creativity, civic engagement, and a whole lot of participatory budgeting.

What is Participatory Budgeting

As incredible as this tool is, it’s actually quite simple to understand. Participatory budgeting, a system that stems from Porto Alegre, Brazil, is simply a system that allows community members to provide input and vote directly on budget decisions and the allocation of public funds. Oftentimes, this tool is used by local government to increase civic engagement, allowing community members to build the environment they wish to live in.

One top-runner in PB projects is Boston’s Youth Lead the Change. Their participatory budgeting project is given at least one million dollars per year from the city’s capital budget. Combined with the use of their mantra, “Youth Power + Youth Voice + Youth Vote = Community Change,” the civil society is absolutely thriving.

But how does the participatory budgeting process work? The process can be broken down into six actionable steps:

  • Planning (Discover)
  • Ideation (Dream)
  • Refinement (Design)
  • Voting (Decide)
  • Implementation (Do)

Every step is citizen-run, inspirational, and easy to implement. This allows participants to learn the ins and outs of financial literacy, improving their own money handling and that of the community they live in, too.

How Can Participatory Budgeting Benefit High Schoolers Today?

High schools have budgets for almost everything that occurs within their walls. With participatory budgeting, high schoolers can use real money to take part in the financial decision-making within their schools. Funds can come from discretionary funds, scholarships, or grants. If a school is interested in sharing the benefits of participatory budgeting with its students, there’s always a way to make it work.

At FirstRoot, we believe implementing participatory budgeting programming in high schools can not only develop true financial literacy, but also:

  • Give students the chance to experience the democratic process in action
  • Help students engage in all design aspects — creating, refining, voting, and funding proposals
  • Strengthen the school community through positive relations among students, stakeholders, administrators, teachers, and parents
  • Create self-confidence and civic pride through student-generated proposal implementation

If you’re interested in offering participatory budgeting in an easy-to-implement and cost-friendly fashion, reach out to our team at FirstRoot today. We’re ready to lead the next generation to financial success — one PB process at a time.