Participatory Budgeting 101

Participating budgeting (PB) is a fantastic initiative that allows community residents the opportunity to vote on how to spend $1,000,000 in funding for capital projects in their neighborhoods. Truly a democratic process, PB is growing exponentially in New York City, with more and more districts implementing the process.


The PB process is fairly simple.


It begins with Neighborhood Assemblies, where community residents diagnose community needs and selects delegates, or ad-hoc representatives, to extensively research and access of the feasibility to implementing capital projects.

Next, Delegate Meetings take place, where delegates start writing down proposals. After these proposals are concrete, they're ready to be presented to the public at Project Expos. In the same spirit of a science fair, presentations take place where delegates and related parties detail projects to garner public support.


Next comes the vote! Community residents vote on up to five projects! Once votes are cast, projects are implemented and monitored.

There are few qualifications for an eligible project:

  • Must be a capital project. Another term for "capital" is "bricks and mortar." PB funding cannot be spent on programs and services, only physical projects
  • Project must be able to last 5 years
  • Must cost at least $35,000

RYTF has been deeply involved in the participatory budgeting process. We are extremely thankful for Participatory Budgeting Project, a nonprofit organization committed to educating and overseeing the participatory budgeting process in across the country. With ample resources, PBP has been successful in raising awareness about PB.