Participatory Budgeting Project, New York, United States

Real power over real money: engaging people through a participatory process


Participatory budgeting (PB) is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget.

The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) in New York is a non-profit organization that empowers people to decide together how to spend public money. The organization contributes to implementing a new way to do politics through a democratic process that includes brainstorming, proposal development, voting and funding the winning project at the local level. Thus taxpayers work with the government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives.


PBB has worked with elected officials and community partners to engage people in different cities to decide how to spend money on community projects. Some numbers:

  • $238,000,000 in public money for 1,530 local projects
  • 300,000 people engaged in democracy
  • 560 organizations linked together to build communities
  •  116 elected officials brought closer to their constituents

Did you know?

The participatory budgeting process was first implemented in 1989 in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil. As of today, participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre occurs annually, starting with a series of neighborhood, regional, and citywide assemblies, where residents and elected budget delegates identify spending priorities and vote on which priorities to implement. Around fifty thousand residents of Porto Alegre now take part in the participatory budgeting process (compared to 1.5 million city inhabitants), with the number of participants growing year on year since 1989. Participants are from diverse economic and political backgrounds. 

Sustainability and Replicability

Today, the budgeting process has been implemented worldwide in more than 300 cities. In North America only, over 250 participatory budgeting processes have taken place.

Lessons learned

People are hungry for more ways to participate: democracy has to be opened up and reinvented for the 21st century. Participatory budgeting is a way to reconnect people with the government and make better decisions together.

Take action

Contact The Participatory Budgeting Project

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