"How would you spend $175,000 to fight poverty in your community?"
That’s the question on a pamphlet advertising a new participatory budgeting project from the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.
At a public meeting on Thomas P. Ryan Community Center in Rochester, Graham Hughes explained the program to a handful of activists, volunteers, and other eager residents.
“Participatory budgeting is basically a democratic way for people to decide how funding is spent,” says Hughes, an Americorps Vista volunteer with RMAPI.
RMAPI has $175,000 to fund projects submitted by the public. Participants came armed with ideas, which they wrote on provided worksheets, and discussed in groups. Later in the process, the ideas will go to a vote.
“First and foremost,” Hughes says, “the hope is that we fund some projects that the community really wants and needs. Second is that we demonstrate that participatory budgeting not only works in Rochester and Monroe County, but that people want it here.”
There are some restrictions on how the money can be spent - the projects should cost between $10,000 and $50,000, be located in Monroe County, and, obviously, address poverty.
RMAPI is collecting ideas until the end of August.