Back to top

Mayor Walsh invites Boston Youth to "Lead the Change," share ideas for how to spend $1 Million

March 10, 2014

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today kicks off the City's first-ever participatory budgeting process, inviting youth from around Boston to share their ideas for how to spend $1 million in City capital funds. Starting tonight and spanning the month of March, youth can participate by attending one of seven in-person assemblies, or by submitting ideas online. Throughout April and May, a youth committee will review ideas, and youth in Boston will be able to vote on their favorites to be funded this fall.

“Young people in Boston have a pulse on what is vibrant, exciting, and important to the future of our city,” Mayor Walsh said. “Youth Lead the Change provides them a way to have a voice in their local government and make important funding decisions.”

One of the few cities to adopt a direct democracy approach to budgeting, Boston is the first city in the nation to implement a participatory budgeting program targeted specifically towards youth. This program is called Youth Lead the Change. Led by Shari Davis of the Department of Youth Engagement & Employment, the City organized a steering committee of 30 local youth organizations to help design and oversee the process.   

“Youth Lead the Change is the first of its kind in the entire country! This is super exciting for Boston,” said Teena-Marie Johnson, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee.  “Young people all across the city work so hard to ensure that youth voices are at the center of decision making and this process is a step in the right direction."

The first step starts tonight with the inaugural youth assembly.  Here youth will learn more about participatory budgeting and pitch their ideas for the City. The assemblies are scheduled for:

  • Monday, March 10, 4-6pm- Tobin Community Center, 2nd Floor, Roxbury
  • Monday, March 17, 4-6pm- Grove Hall Community Center, Dorchester
  • Wednesday, March 19, 3:30-5:30pm- Paris Street Community Center, East Boston
  • Thursday, March 20, 4-6pm- Cleveland Community Center, Dorchester
  • Monday, March 24, 4-6pm- Roslindale Community Center, Roslindale
  • Tuesday, March 25, 4-6pm- Mildred Ave Community Center, Mattapan
  • Thursday, March 27, 5-7pm- Condon Community Center, South Boston

Youth can also submit ideas on-line

Ideas submitted on-line and through the assemblies will be reviewed by a group of volunteer “Change Agents” ages 12-25, in consultation with design and construction experts. During this stage projects may be combined, modified or dropped, based on further research and feedback.

In June, the Change Agents will present a ballot with the final project proposals and Boston residents ages 12-25 will vote on which projects they want to see funded. The top vote-getting projects that add up to $1,000,000 will be submitted to the Mayor’s Office for approval.

“Youth Lead the Change empowers youth, teaches them about the budget, and provides them with an opportunity in shaping the city around them,” said Will Fan, Co-chair of the Steering Committee.   “We hope that through this process more young people will realize their values and inject their vigor into the city to build a more healthy and tight-knit community.”

The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) and Citizinvestor are helping the City to implement Youth Lead the Change.