Next Up amplifies the voice and leadership of diverse young people to achieve a more just and equitable Oregon. Our interconnected strategies of youth leadership development and organizing, civic engagement, and issue advocacy are aimed at making Oregon a place where young people have decision-making power – and that also means within our own organization.
As an organization that is for young people, by young people, we understand the importance of having young people fully lead and have ownership, agency, and responsibility over our work. We believe that participatory budgeting (PB) will help us accomplish that values-aligned, deeper form of youth leadership.
Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. It gives people real power over real money. According to the Participatory Budgeting Project, “PB started in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, as an anti-poverty measure that helped reduce child mortality by nearly 20%. Since then PB has spread to over 7,000 cities around the world, and has been used to decide budgets from states, counties, cities, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions.”
In 2021, we committed to learning more about the participatory budgeting process, and how we could bring it to our organization to live out our values of democratic decision-making, justice, and youth leadership. We were fortunate to be chosen to join the Participatory Budgeting Project’s inaugural ‘PB for Organizations’ cohort, where we engaged in a collaborative learning environment with organizations across the country to discuss how we could implement best practices for an equitable PB process at our organization.
We’re delighted that Next Up has launched our first internal participatory budgeting process this year.
Our vision for the communities we organize is that youth have full autonomy, self-determination, and agency to make the changes they want and need. By using the PB process, Next Up’s budget priorities will better reflect our communities served, not just for a singular year, but every year following that. PB will also help build engagement and ownership with our base of young people; which is an excellent opportunity to engage members of all parts of the organization, including our staff, board, occasional volunteers, and cohort members.