Public Agenda to Evaluate Participatory Budgeting Practices with $75K Rita Allen Foundation Grant

Award will support research to measure if and how participatory budgeting expands public participation and improves governance


New York City – Public Agenda has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Rita Allen Foundation to support evaluation of participatory budgeting, a democratic practice through which community members decide how to allocate a portion of public funds. Together with previous grants from the Democracy Fund and Kettering Foundation, this grant will enable Public Agenda to coordinate and support research on local participatory budgeting processes, and produce an annual report on the state of participatory budgeting.

“Participatory budgeting in the United States is a young field," said Will Friedman, president of Public Agenda. "What we learn from individual community efforts can help improve its practice across the United States and Canada and help participatory budgeting fulfill its democratic potential. Quite possibly it can offer lessons for other forms of public participation in governance as well.”

Public Agenda will continue to coordinate a North American Participatory Budgeting Research Board, develop a recommended evaluation framework and metrics, share tools for evaluating participatory budgeting, support and coordinate local evaluations, aggregate and analyze data from across sites, gather perspectives on the process from elected officials, and communicate their findings to advance and broaden best practices.

This work has already resulted in an evaluation toolkit for local researchers and implementers of participatory budgeting. Those interested can view 15 key evaluation metrics here and download the entire toolkit, which includes a set of customizable research instruments to collect data and an evaluation timeline, by registering here.

Public Agenda will also complete a study of the views of elected officials who have either chosen or declined to adopt participatory budgeting in their district or city. Insights from this research will contribute to understanding the spread and sustainability of participatory budgeting and shed light on the effect of participatory budgeting on communication with constituents and agencies as well as within elected officials’ offices and among staff. Findings will be released in a full report in mid 2016. Read more about this project.


About Public Agenda

Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate complex, divisive issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on higher education affordability, achievement gaps, community college completion, use of technology and innovation, and other higher education issues. Find Public Agenda online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @PublicAgenda.

About the Rita Allen Foundation

The Rita Allen Foundation invests in transformative ideas in their earliest stages to leverage their growth and promote breakthrough solutions to significant problems. It enables early-career biomedical scholars to do pioneering research, seeds innovative approaches to fostering informed civic engagement, and develops knowledge and networks to build the effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. Throughout its work, the Foundation embraces collaboration, creativity, learning and leadership.

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