Student Name: Karen Wang
Title of Project: Participatory Budgeting Toolkit for Youth Delegates
Short Abstract: Proposal for a digital toolkit aimed at youth delegates in NYC’s Participatory Budgeting process, in support of youth civic engagement. The toolkit reflects Connected Learning principles to encourage youth participation, and supports public librarians who volunteer as facilitators and make their branches “home bases” for youth committee meetings and collaboration.
Long Abstract: I envisioned a digital toolkit for youth delegates in New York City’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Every year, City Councilmembers set aside funding for projects that are proposed and selected by their constituents. Community members volunteer as delegates to take PB ideas suggested by their neighbors in the district, and turn them into concrete proposals to put on the final ballot. Delegates work in committees, and some districts have youth committees composed of middle and high school students. My project provides a digital toolkit to support the work of these youth committees—making the process smooth, personally rewarding, and fun for the participating youth. The toolkit includes PB-specific and productivity components, as well as social features based on the framework of Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out (HOMAGO). By incorporating Connected Learning and Connected Civics principles, the toolkit will help participants develop political efficacy, expand their knowledge about the work of elected officials and city agencies, and deepen their ties with their particular community. Ultimately, this project aims to provide a strong foundation and motivation for young people to continue their participation in the public sphere far into the future. In addition, this toolkit will hopefully encourage public librarians to volunteer as facilitators for these youth committees, giving them all the resources and digital tools they need and connecting them to a community of other youth committee facilitators around the city.