Boston youth invited to vote on how to spend $1 million of City's capital budget
For the fifth year in a row, youth ages 12-25 in Boston have a chance to vote on how the City of Boston will spend $1 million of Mayor Walsh's Imagine Boston 2030 Capital Plan through the "Youth Lead the Change" participatory budgeting process. Voting stations are currently set up across the City, and votes will be collected through Saturday, June 2. An online ballot is also available.
"By involving young people in this process we are cultivating a generation of Boston youth who are passionate about their City and have the opportunity to shape its future," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Young people are working together, polling their peers, and addressing the issues that matter most to them."
Youth Lead the Change (YLC) is managed by Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) Division of Youth Engagement & Employment in close collaboration with a steering committee comprised of community and youth serving organizations. The Mayor's Youth Council partnered with youth organizations to write the rules and oversee the implementation of the process. Voting polls will be located at local MBTA stations, schools and youth serving agencies for the citywide vote. The list of voting locations and the online ballot can be found at boston.gov/youth-lead-change.
Current projects youth will vote on are:
Project A: Fans In Schools
Install fans in schools that lack central air conditioning to provide a more comfortable learning environment in the summer.
Project B: Add Solar Panels To Buildings
Place solar panels on city-owned property. It helps save money in the long term as we combat climate change and lose oil and fossil fuel reserves.
Project C: Invest In Community Gardens
Renovate community gardens and farms to increase the production of produce, which will create more fresh food options for Boston's Youth. This renovation will improve the health of Boston's youth by providing access to healthy alternatives in their local neighborhoods.
Project D: Youth WiFi Lounge
Create an accessible youth WiFi lounge in Boston City Hall for students to be able to connect with other students, collaborate on youth initiatives and projects, gain access to city agencies, and apply for youth jobs. This space will have access to Wicked Free WiFi, laptops, desktops, and meeting space.
Project E: Blue Box Emergency Lights
Install blue emergency lights connected to 9-1-1 in pilot neighborhoods to help make pedestrians feel safer walking late at night or walking alone.
"Youth Lead The Change's Participatory Budgeting process empowers youth by giving them the opportunity to engage in deciding how the City spends its capital budget, illustrating the power of voting," said Vikiana Petit-Homme, age 16, Youth Director of Youth Lead the Change. "Participating in YLC reminds me that as a youth, I have a voice in government and the opportunity to connect with my community and lead capital projects that can help make Boston a better and safer city."
Last year nearly 5,000 eligible votes came in from Boston's youngest populations. A special emphasis is placed on engaging LGBTQ youth, homeless youth, undocumented residents and court or gang involved youth.
Past projects selected for funding have included expanding Wicked Free WiFi, installing water bottle refilling stations at parks and placing newer trash cans and recycling bins in select neighborhoods.
Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) is the City of Boston's largest youth and human service agency. BCYF operates 36 community centers in Boston that offer a variety of engaging and enriching programs for people of all ages created through community input and need. BCYF also oversees many citywide programs including the nationally-recognized violence intervention and prevention Streetworker Program and SuccessLink, Mayor's Summer Jobs Program.