What is Participatory Budgeting?



Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process that empowers community members through civic engagement to decide how to spend part of a public budget. PB was first developed in Brazil in 1989 and is now used in over 1,500 cities around the world.

In Cambridge, PB aims to directly involve residents in the budgeting and city-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the City’s budget reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents and local partners. Cambridge residents have allocated more than $7.5 million to PB projects since 2014. This 10th PB cycle is special because Cambridge will allocate a record-high $2 million for this year’s process, which doubles the previous budget of $1 million. The types of projects eligible for funding this fiscal year will be expanded to include capital and operating projects.

Cambridge began its tenth PB process in the fall of 2023. From September through October, community members submitted more than 1,100 ideas for how to spend $2 million of the City's FY25 budget to improve Cambridge. Throughout the winter, volunteer residents reviewed and developed those ideas into proposals to meet community needs. The vote for the 10th PB cycle was open from March 7 through March 17, 2024. 


PB Timeline Overview


Some website images are provided by the Participatory Budgeting Project.