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What is Youth Participatory Budgeting?

Youth Participatory Budgeting (YPB) is a democratic process in which young community members decide how to spend part of a municipal budget. Participatory budgeting has been shown to spark an interest among young people in the system and ideals of democracy and to increase the likelihood of their future engagement with local government. In the fall of 2018, the Bloomington Common Council approved Mayor John Hamilton’s proposal to allocate $15,000 within the 2019 budget to a YPB initiative. YPB gives young people real power to make real decisions over real money.


How Does YPB Work?

Design The Process

  • Writing the rules is the first step of YPB. This is when we develop/review the guidelines that we put in place, and solidify how we want the process to go.
  • Develop a timeline and work plan for each stage of the process.
  • Assemble a Steering Committee that is representative of the community and includes members from underserved areas.
  • Communicate decision-making roles to the Steering Committee and the public


Brainstorm Ideas

  • During this phase, we collect initial ideas for community improvements from Bloomington residents.


Develop Proposals

  • Volunteers called delegates develop project proposal ideas with youth. We turn developed project proposals into a ballot for the public to vote on.



  • Community members in grades 7-12 vote on the top two projects from the ballot that they would like funded. Delegates tally the votes to find which project won overall.


Fund the winning proposal

  • Once the winning project have been identified, youth, City departments, and stakeholders work together to put winning projects in place.




The Goals

  • Deep community engagement of youth
  • Youth expanding the YPB project
  • Awareness of community, government and issues
  • Improving relationship between youth and government
  • Build credibility in YPB project
  • Fund projects that have positive impact


The Principals

We strive to implement YPB according to the following principles:

1. Empowerment

Enable local young people to decide how YPB works in their community and across the city.


2. Transparency

Share information and make decisions as openly as possible.


3. Inclusion

Make special efforts to engage young people who face obstacles and are often excluded to participate.


4. Equality

Ensure that every young person can have equal power over public spending.


5. Community

Bring young people together across traditional lines of division, to work together for the good of the whole community.




Progress header


✅ April - First meeting of the Steering Committee
✅ April through May - Develop the Rulebook
✅ End of May through Beginning of June - Delegate selection and orientation
        ✅ Orientation Dates: May 19th & 25th
✅ June through August - Idea collection among youth in grades 8-11
?End of August through Beginning of September - Proposal development (6 Meetings)
  • Stakeholder Summit: Date TBA
  • Presentation of YPB Project to City Council: August 14, 2019
?September - Voting
?Beginning of October - Tally Votes
?November 7, 2019 - Results announced
?November and December - Evaluation
?Throughout 2020 - Implementation and monitoring


Idea Header



Who Can Submit Ideas

? Anyone is welcome to submit a project proposal who attends a Monroe County school and will be in grades 8-12 at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

? All proposals will be submitted online via an online form with criteria set forth by the steering committee.

? Ideas for proposals will be collected starting June 3, 2019 through August 10, 2019.


Qualifying Proposals Must:

? Be completed within the $15,000 budget

? Benefit the general public

? Fall under one of the following categories:

        ⌾ Arts/Culture

        ⌾ Education

        ⌾ Environment

        ⌾ Recreation

        ⌾ Social Concerns

        ⌾ Other

? Funds can not be used to:

        ⌾ Fund salaries

        ⌾ Fund any for-profit organizations

        ⌾ Funds must be used in Bloomington City Limits


Proposals Header

Project 1: Adult Music Education

  • What: Creating an adult music education program that could partner with the other musicians in the Bloomington area.
  • Why: Adults often feel too embarrassed to learn an instrument because “beginner learning” is typically associated with the youth, which is why a program that focuses solely on adults would be beneficial.

Project 2: The Moss Project

  • What: Erect a “living wall” of moss art
  • Why: The wall would aid in filtering pollutants from the air and promote better air quality while also doubling as an eye-catching display of art.

Project 3: Water Fountains

  • What: Erect water fountains that include a water bottle filler, and a place for pets to drink. The fountain would be YPB branded, allowing youth to make their mark on the community.
  • Why: Throughout many commonly used trails and in downtown Bloomington, there are stretches (some over a mile) where there is no water available.

Project 4: Youth Art Mural

  • What: Beautify areas of Bloomington by installing art murals on the sides of buildings/structures in opportunity areas. Youth would collaborate with a local artist to bring the youth-led vision to life.
  • Why: Many under-developed or neglected areas present an opportunity to expand the art scene and showcase the talent of youth artists.

Project 5: Court Support

  • What: Provide youth accompany their parents in court with books and other resources that could help and support them in this stressful time.
  • Why: Alleviate stress, anxiety and provide a healthy distraction for youth.


Voting Header





Who can vote?:

Community members in grades 7-12 from the following schools are eligible to vote: 

  • Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship

  • Bloomington Graduation School

  • Bloomington North

  • Bloomington South

  • Batchelor

  • Jackson Creek

  • Tri-North

  • Project School

  • Harmony

  • St. Benedict 

  • St. Charles

  • Lighthouse 

  • Homeschools

Additionally, community members in grades 7-12 who are homeschooled will be \available to vote at the Monroe County Public Library, location TBA. Voters can select their top two projects from the ballot that they would like funded. All votes will be submitted via an online link during the week of October 24- Nov. 1. All votes will be tallied electronically to determine the winning project which will be announced Thursday,  November 7, 2019 at the Commission on the Status of Children and Youth SWAGGER Awards Ceremony

How to vote:

Qualifying students will vote online at