Mayor Walsh gives young people $1 million to spend on Boston


The office of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Tuesday it will allocate $1 million of the city’s budget to letting those in the 12 to 25 age bracket vote on a collection of projects gathered through online submissions and community assemblies.

By partnering with community project crowd funding website Citizinvestor, the mayor’s office invited anyone with an idea for improving the city to submit pitches for the Youth Lead the Change initiative from now until the end of March.

“Our mission is to empower citizens to invest in their community and this is a really creative way of doing that,” said Jordan Raynor, co-founder of Citizinvestor.

Typically Citizinvestor fills municipal budgetary gaps by allowing governments to post projects that fall by the wayside, letting the citizenry crowd fund efforts it wishes to see come to fruition.

In Boston’s case the mayor’s office approached Citizinvestor with the idea of using their platform to facilitate the idea generation process for the youth allotted million. The company agreed to do so at no charge to the city.

The initiative marks the first participatory budgeting effort in Boston, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

Citizinvestor has 130 municipalities signed up for the platform with 22 having already successfully funded projects, Raynor said. The first successful project occurred here in Boston, an initiative that put consumer tech devices in the hands of blind youth. Somerville also successfully funded a project to fight rising food costs by bringing a mobile farmers market to the city.

The mayor will host a series of six additional community assemblies (the schedule is available in the press release).

In the first three days the website gathered three unique proposals. Meanwhile r/boston, our city’s slice of the social news site Reddit, took to the initiative, with ideas ranging from wishful (a municipal fiber broadband service to break the Comcast monopoly), to hungry (1 million tacos), to mundane (fix the pavement).

With help from the the mayor’s office a team of youths will spend two months culling the project list and assemble a final ballot in June to be voted on by Boston residents age 12-25, according to the press release. The projects receiving the most votes then move to the mayor’s office for final approval.

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