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Youth Lead the Change

Youth Power + Youth Voice + Youth Vote = Community Change

Youth Lead the Change (YLC) gives young people power over one million dollars of the City's capital budget. The process is led by youth in Boston.

About Youth Lead the Change

Youth Lead the Change (YLC) started in 2014 as an initiative for youth-led participatory budgeting in the City of Boston. The YLC process is informed by the Participatory Budgeting Project. 

Each year, the City of Boston invests one million dollars of the capital budget to YLC and gives young people the power to decide how it will be spent in their communities. Boston youth are invited to pitch ideas, develop proposals, and vote on three projects to be implemented in the City.

Capital funding in the City is used to make physical improvements to City property such as parks, community centers, libraries, and schools. YLC funding is allocated to each of the three projects to make improvements to the City of Boston. 

In 2019-2020, Youth Lead the Change revised its schedule to a two-year process. This allows enough time to design, construct, and implement winning projects. Year one is dedicated to idea collection and voting on new projects. The second year is focused on the implementation of those projects. The 2019-2020 winning projects will be implemented in 2020-2021. Youth Lead the Change will collect ideas and vote on three projects in 2021-2022, to be implemented in 2022-2023. 

Youth Lead the Change Process

The Process

As a first step, the YLC Committee of the Mayor’s Youth Council reviews the guidelines for YLC that were put in place the year before. The committee decides what the process should be for the next cycle.

During this phase, youth across the City are invited to submit their ideas for projects to improve their community. 

YLC Committee members alongside City departments develop ideas into project proposals. The developed proposals are turned into a ballot for youth to vote on. 

Boston residents ages 12-22 vote which projects from the ballot they would like funded. The three projects with the most votes are chosen to be implemented the next year.

There are three ways to vote: 

  1. Online:
    Youth Lead the Change makes voting online as simple as clicking a link. The ballot will be available during the voting phase of the process. 
  2. In your community:
    Vote in person and interact with Youth Lead the Change staff at a location in your community. Location information will be available during the voting phase of the process. 
  3. Attending Vote Fest:
    Vote Fest takes place at schools in the City and gives youth the opportunity to vote on the YLC projects they’d like to see in their community. 

Once the three winning projects have been identified, youth, City departments and stakeholders work together to develop and implement them.

Winning Projects

Winning Projects
Plant the City

Planting trees and plants around the City of Boston, especially in more urban areas along streets and sidewalks. The goal is to both beautify our City and help fight climate change

Boston Shelters

Investing in the Woods Mullen Shelter, and enhancing the physical space for everyone. This includes new furniture, facilities, and entertainment for those experiencing homelessness.

Eat Local

Investing in local urban farming in Boston neighborhoods to create food access and increase community bonding. Specifically targeting areas that are considered food deserts by creating more urban farms in

Status: In process
Installing solar-powered benches that charge phones and devices. These benches would be placed along bus routes with limited or no seating.
Status: In process
Installing new and improved water fountains and replacing old ones in public parks. Fountains will feature water-bottle filling stations to help reduce waste.
Status: Completed
Placing trash and recycling bins along streets in areas of need. More trash bins would:
  • prevent littering
  • beautify neighborhoods, and
  • help the environment.
Fans In Schools
Status: In process
Install fans in schools that lack central air conditioning. This will provide a more comfortable learning environment in the summer.
Add Solar Panels To Buildings
Status: In process
Place solar panels on City-owned property. It will help save money in the long-term. The City needs to combat climate change and address the fact that we are losing oil and fossil fuel reserves.
Youth Wi-Fi Lounge
Status: In process
Create an accessible youth Wi-Fi lounge in Boston City Hall for students to:
  • connect with other students
  • work on youth initiatives and projects
  • gain access to City agencies, and
  • apply for youth jobs.
Informative homeless resources
Status: In process
A digital billboard displaying resources and job opportunities available to the homeless youth.
Performing and visual arts studio
Status: In process
A space where people of all ages can come together and create all types of art.
Future media center
Status: In process
A space that would contain recent technology that would otherwise be unavailable to most students.
More Trash Cans and Recycling Bins
Status: Completed
Put more trash cans and recycling bins around the city to ensure waste is being properly disposed of.
Sunshine and books
Status: In process
Providing additional reading spaces in public parks. 
Job and Resource Finder app
Status: In process
An app that would act as a hub for all youth jobs and resources in the City of Boston.
Parks are for Everyone
Status: Completed
Renovating and making more Boston Parks handicap accessible.
Wicked Free WiFi 3.0
Status: In process
Upgrading and expanding Boston’s Wicked Free WiFi
Link Up: Digital Billboards in Schools 
Status: In process
Place a digital bulletin board in a Boston public school that shares youth resources and opportunities.
Wicked Free WiFi 
Status: Completed
Provide free WiFi in many locations such as Boston public libraries and schools, as well as BCYF centers. This will allow the youth access to the internet to complete homework and other learning activities.
Water Bottle Refill Stations
Status: Completed
Water bottle refill stations provide public access to safe drinking water and reduce the repurchasing of plastic.
Boston Latin Academy gym renovation
Status: Completed
Description: Renovate BLA gym, so BLA students can have a better experience in activities and sports, which will create a better environment.
Hubway expansion
Status: Completed
Description: Provide more bikes for Boston residents to have access to, which gives opportunities for youth to stay fit and active.
New sidewalks for new parks 
Status: Completed
Renovated and added new sidewalks to some city parks so that Boston youth can commute safely.
Paris St. extreme makeover
Status: Completed
Renovating the community center to create a space that allows for youth to have better access to technology and create a more conducive learning environment. The building's programming successfully expanded to accommodate the needs and desires of the community while maintaining the historical integrity of the facility.
Security cameras at Dr. Loesch Family Park
Status: Completed
Added Cameras to Dr. Loesch Family Park at the community's request to increase the comfort of park visitors.
Boston Art Walls (Art Mural)
Status: In process
To celebrate the diversity that exists in the BHA Communities. BHA properties have a large percentage of immigrant residents, and the physical buildings can provide a space to celebrate the various ethnic groups that make up the community. This mural will be used to showcase the cultural diversity on the property. 
Techknowledge - Chromebooks for high schools
Status: Completed
Provided Chromebooks to some Boston high schools to better students' learning experience.
Franklin Park Playground upgrade
Status: Completed
Franklin Park had newly renovated as part of the Youth Lead the Change initiative back in 2015. This upgrade helped to assure more fun and safety for Boston residents.
Skate Park Feasibility Study
Status: Completed
This study was completed to assess the feasibility of adding a skate park in the City of Boston. 

Contact Us

If you would like any information about past YLC projects, the YLC process or would like to get involved, reach out to us at

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