ON THE AGENDA | MAY 12TH, 2016 | Allison Rizzolo

Now We Know: Participatory Budgeting in the U.S. and Canada

Until now, we haven't had a clear idea of participatory budgeting's use and immediate outcomes in the U.S. and Canada.

Are you one of the 70,000 people who voted in participatory budgeting last year? Residents of the United States and Canada helped decide how their community should spend nearly $50 million in 2014-15 through this public engagement process.

Participatory budgeting (PB) has grown exponentially in the U.S. and Canada in the past few years. Until now, we haven't had a clear idea of its use and immediate outcomes: How do communities implement PB? Who participates? How much money is spent? What sorts of projects does PB end up funding?

Over the past year, we've been working with people coordinating and evaluating PB locally in order to answer these and other questions. We analyzed data from 46 communities in the U.S. and Canada to provide the first-ever comprehensive look at the state of PB in the U.S. and Canada in 2014-15.

Here's a look at some of the numbers:

In addition to compiling an overall snapshot of the state of PB in the U.S. and Canada, we also looked at community variation and there was a lot. For example, in one community, residents cast 85 ballots, while in another, they cast over 6,000. While communities allocated $1 million to PB on average, allocations ranged from $61,000 to $3.4 million.

The report, "Public Spending, By the People," is full of fascinating facts and figures. You can read more and download the full report here, check out the executive summary or scroll through the charts and graphics.


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