Skip to main content

The Learning Conference 2015

June 10–11, 2015

Boston, Mass.

Short Talk 6: Learning Together by Deciding Together: Participatory Budgeting and the Impacts of Engagement

Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 9:30 AM–11:15 AM EDT
Cape Cod (Main Lobby)
Session Description

Elected officials, like grantmakers, typically allocate millions of dollars each year. Increasingly, officials are opening up these funding decisions through “participatory budgeting” to maximize the impact of scarce resources. This year, officials in 15 cities across the United States and Canada are engaging 40,000 people in deciding how to spend $42 million. In this short talk, Josh Lerner will explain how these cities are engaging diverse stakeholders in complex learning and decision making, and in the process redirecting resources to better address community needs.

Primary Points Of Contact

Session Designers


Josh Lerner, Participatory Budgeting Project
Speaker Biography

Josh is co-founder and Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), a non-profit organization that empowers people to decide together how to spend public money, across the US and Canada. Through programs that PBP has launched and supported, 60,000 people have directly decided how to spend $80,000,000 on more than 600 community projects in 10 cities. This work has been recognized by The White House as a model for open government, and by the Brown Democracy Medal as the best practical innovation advancing democracy around the world. Josh completed a PhD in Politics at the New School for Social Research and a Masters in Planning from the University of Toronto. He has over 15 years of experience developing, researching, and working with leading community engagement programs across North America, Latin America, and Europe. He is the author of Making Democracy Fun: How Game Design Can Empower Citizens and Transform Politics (MIT Press, 2014), Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy? (Cornell University Press, 2014), and over 20 articles. (Follow him on twitter @joshalerner)

Session Materials