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Youth Lead the Change

Youth Power + Youth Voice + Youth Vote = Community Change

Youth Lead the Change gives young people power over one million dollars of the city's capital budget. The process is youth led by Boston teens. The YLC process is informed by the Participatory Budgeting Project.

2019-2020 voting results

Parks for All Phase 2: 3,297 Votes

Plant the City: 5,480 Votes (winning project!)

Boston Shelters: 5,476 Votes (winning project!)

Eat Local - Urban Farming: 3,590 Votes

Heat For Success: 4,100 Votes (winning project!)

Total votes: 7625

2019-2020 proposed projects


Creating more accessible parks for all Boston’s youth

Equipping Bostonian playgrounds with accessible and sensory equipment. Renovations would make parks inclusive, usable, and fun for all youth, regardless of physical ability. 


Plant more trees and plants to protect the environment

Invest in planting trees and plants around the City of Boston. Invest in more urbanized areas along main streets and sidewalks to fight climate change. 


Renovating Woods Mullen Shelter 

Invest in the Woods Mullen Shelter by enhancing the physical space to create a more comforting space for those experiencing homelessness. Provide new or updated furniture, facilities, and equipment.


Grow locally sourced fresh food in neighborhoods

Invest in local urban farming in Boston neighborhoods by creating more accessible healthy food options. Target neighborhoods experiencing food deserts by:

  • increasing funding for urban farming development
  • creating more urban farms, and
  • adding or updating urban farming equipment in City-owned vacant lots. 

Update or replace school heating systems for a more productive learning environment

Invest in school heating systems to help students concentrate on their academics success and thrive in winter.

Where does voting happen?

Voting locations

Online voting for Youth Lead the Change is as simple as clicking the button below! Use your power to vote from the comfort of your couch or on the go. 

Vote online

Vote at a location in your community. You'll get the chance to interact with the Youth Lead the Change staff and get more information about the process. Location information will be available during the voting phase of the process.

Vote Fest gives youth an opportunity to decide how to spend $1 million of the City’s capital budget. By participating, youth will be able to receive a wide range of benefits from the community. In 2019, we partnered with Boston Public Schools to bring voting to thousands of youths and students.

2019 school partners
  • Adams Elementary School 
  • Boston Collegiate Charter School
  • Boston Latin Academy
  • Boston Latin School
  • Brooke Charter School Mattapan
  • East Boston High School
  • Excel High School
  • King K-8 School
  • McCormack Middle School
  • New Mission High School

Current winners

Plant the City: 5,480 votes

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: 5,476 votes

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 

Project status phases

Project status phases

This phase means the project has been voted in by the youth. Funds have been identified for the necessary department to begin the project.

This phase means the project will now be a part of a larger project. It could also mean the project is currently not feasible to complete. Therefore, the funds have been reallocated to support another project.

This phase means all parties involved have begun deliberating on and drafting how to put the project in place. This process includes:

  • reviewing proposals
  • getting the appropriate signatures on all documents
  • creating a scope of work, and
  • developing specific details that support the project's ongoing development.

This phase means the department putting the project in place has worked with all parties to design the project scope. The Youth Lead the Change committee is included in this process. They provide feedback to all parties involved.

This phase means all parties have agreed on:

  • the project design (requirements and specifications)
  • the cost
  • timelines, and
  • construction, which is  is scheduled or underway.

This means the implementation, design, and construction are complete. The capital project will host a ribbon-cutting and or is available for public use

Past winners

Past winners
Status: Construction Process
Installing solar-powered benches that charge phones and devices. These benches would be placed along bus routes with limited or no seating.
Status: Construction 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: Construction Process
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
Project A  -  858 Votes 
Status: Funding Awarded
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
Project B  -  718 Votes 
Status: Funding Reallocated
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
Project D  -  812 Votes 
Status: Implementation 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: Design Process
A digital billboard displaying resources and job opportunities available to the homeless youth.
Performing and visual arts studio
Status: Design Process
A space where people of all ages can come together and create all types of art.
Future media center
Status: Implementation Process
A space that would contain recent technology that would otherwise be unavailable to most students.
More Trash Cans and Recycling Bins
Status: Project Completed
Put more trash cans and recycling bins around the city to ensure waste is being properly disposed of.
Sunshine and books
Status: Project Completed
Providing additional reading spaces in public parks. 
Job and Resource Finder app
Status: Funding Reallocated
An app that would act as a hub for all youth jobs and resources in the City of Boston.
Parks are for Everyone
Status: Project Completed
Renovating and making more Boston Parks handicap accessible.
Wicked Free WiFi 3.0
Status: Funding Reallocated
Upgrading and expanding Boston’s Wicked Free WiFi
Link Up: Digital Billboards in Schools 
Status: Project Completed
Place a digital bulletin board in a Boston public school that shares youth resources and opportunities.
Wicked Free WiFi 
Status: Project 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: Project Completed
Water bottle refill stations provide public access to safe drinking water and reduce the repurchasing of plastic.
Boston Latin Academy gym renovation
Status: Project 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: Project 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: Project Completed
Renovated and added new sidewalks to some city parks so that Boston youth can commute safely.
Paris St. extreme makeover
Status: Project 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: Project 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: Implementation 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: Project Completed
Provided Chromebooks to some Boston high schools to better students' learning experience.
Franklin Park Playground upgrade
Status: Project 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: Project Completed
This study was completed to assess the feasibility of adding a skate park in the City of Boston. 

Youth Lead the Change process

The process

Writing the rules is the first step of Youth Lead the Change. This is when we review the guidelines that we put in place last year, and solidify how we want the process to go.

During this phase we:
  • Develop a timeline and workplan for each stage of the process.
  • Assemble a Steering Committee that is representative of the community and includes members from underserved areas.
  • Communicate decision-making roles to the Steering Committee and public.

During this phase, we collect initial ideas for community improvements from Boston residents.

Qualifying projects must:
  • include improvements to physical City of Boston property, like parks, community centers, schools, and libraries
  • benefit the general public, and
  • last at least five years.
Goals of Idea Collection
  • Get participation from as many underrepresented community members as possible. We want to maximize their voices in the process.
  • Educate participants about the program and the ways they can get involved.

Volunteers called Change Agents develop project proposal ideas with youth and City departments. We turn developed project proposals into a ballot for the public to vote on.

Community members ages 12 - 22 vote on the three projects from the ballot that they would like funded. Change Agents tally the votes to find which three projects won overall.

Once the three winning projects have been identified, youth, City departments, and stakeholders work together to put winning projects in place.

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