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Mayor Walsh announces winning projects of youth-focused participatory budget vote

Fifth year of youth participation serves as a national model

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the three winning projects of the Youth Lead the Change vote, a participatory budgeting process where young Bostonians ages 12-25 decide how to allocate $1 million of the City's Capital Plan. This vote is the fifth time that the City has engaged young Boston residents in the budgetary process, and is the first initiative of its kind in the nation. 

"Youth Lead the Change creates a process to engage young people all over Boston in the City's budgeting decisions," said Mayor Walsh. "Young people are working together, polling their peers, and addressing the issues that matter most to them. In addition to empowering young people today, we are cultivating a generation of Boston youth who are not only passionate, but also have the tools and knowledge to shape the future."

"Empowering youth to bring about tangible change is essential to building up our communities," said Chief of Health and Human Services, Marty Martinez. "Through this participatory budgeting process, young people evaluate the needs of their community and collectively decide on allocating critical resources that create positive change for themselves and for the city."

The Mayor's Youth Council partnered with youth organizations to write the rules and oversee the implementation of the process. Voting polls were stationed at local train stations, youth centers and school buildings for the city-wide vote and votes could be submitted online. 3,461 eligible votes came in from Boston's youngest populations. This year, young people conducted extra outreach to engage LGBTQ youth, homeless youth, undocumented residents, and court or gang involved youth.

The winning Youth Lead the Change projects for 2018 are:

  • First Place: Fans In Schools: Install fans in schools that lack central air conditioning to provide a more comfortable learning environment in the summer.

  • Second Place: 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.

  • Third Place: Add Solar Panels To Buildings: Place solar panels on city-owned property to help save money in the long term as we combat climate change and lose oil and fossil fuel reserves.

"Participating in YLC gives young people a voice in government and the opportunity to connect with their neighborhood and select capital projects that can help make Boston a better and safer city," said Vikiana Petit-Homme, age 16, Youth Director of Youth Lead the Change. Vikiana recently shared the success of Youth Lead the Change with Mayors around the country at the US Conference of Mayors Boston gathering.

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.

Youth Lead the Change (YLC) is managed by Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) Division of Youth Engagement and Employment, in close collaboration with a steering committee comprised of community and youth serving organizations. To learn more about Youth Lead the Change, visit or contact the BCYF Division of Youth Engagement and Employment at 617-635-4202.

About Boston Centers for Youth and Families

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.

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