Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2023 

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Civic Engagement Commission Announces Implementing Partners for 46 Projects Funded for a Total of $5M in the First Cycle of "The People's Money" Participatory Budgeting Process

44 community-based organizations will implement 46 expense projects for a total of $5 million

NEW YORK — New York City Civic Engagement Commission (CEC) announced today a key milestone of "The People's Money," New York City's first-ever citywide participatory budgeting process: 44 community-based organizations will implement 46 expense (non-capital) projects for a total of $5 million from the city budget for Cycle 1 (2022-2023). 

The funded projects address a wide range of community needs identified by New Yorker City residents 11 and older who cast over 200,000 ballots in May and June of 2023. Mental health, job training, and education comprise more than 60 percent of the funded projects, with 28 percent, 19 percent, and 15 percent, respectively, mainly serving youth, older adults, and immigrant and limited-English proficiency populations in underserved communities. The remaining projects focus on food access, health and well-being, housing, parent education, and anti-violence.

"We are witnessing the power of community voice come to life. Earlier this year, in the first-ever citywide participatory budgeting process, New Yorkers made their voices heard on how they want to invest $5 million of our city budget," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "Our city is stronger when we hear from everyone, and this administration has always prioritized listening directly to New Yorkers. I cannot wait to see these 46 projects in action as they deliver results for the communities they will serve."

“I am proud to be a part of an administration that listens to New Yorkers – and gives them a direct say through participatory budgeting.  Thousands of New Yorkers seized the opportunity to direct how $5 million of their tax dollars get spent, and today, almost four dozen projects of their choosing will start implementation,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “The Adams Administration will continue to make good on its promise to empower and co-govern with New Yorkers. I am confident these projects will touch the lives of communities throughout New York City.”

“Participatory budgeting is a great example of how our administration is on-the-ground - we’re listening to New Yorkers and delivering for them,” said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. “We’re excited to invest in these initiatives to promote mental health, ensure that more New Yorkers have access to high-quality food, and expand job training opportunities.”

“New Yorkers know what their communities want and need - they are the experts. That is why I am thrilled that communities throughout the city took time to come up with and implement these projects - tangible improvements for New Yorkers by New Yorkers,” said Chief Engagement Officer, Betsy MacLean. Food accessibility, job training, and mental health supports are all crucial services right now - so it’s no surprise that New Yorkers voted to implement them in their communities - helping to collectively strengthen them long term.”

"We are excited to be working with over forty New York City organizations to bring to life the projects that thousands of New Yorkers identified as vital to their communities," said CEC Chair and Executive Director Dr. Sarah Sayeed. "We will support these community partners over the next year to ensure they successfully implement the solutions selected by New Yorkers during last year’s vote period. The second year of the 'People's Money’ is also underway, and I want to encourage all New Yorkers to participate in the voting phase coming up in the Spring – this time next year, they could see their favorite project funded! This is an exciting process for anyone who wants to see the real and meaningful results of democratic participation!”

In the first cycle of “The People’s Money,” the CEC partnered with over 100 community-based organizations and engaged numerous city agencies and elected officials.  New Yorkers  helped to lead each step of the process, from idea generation, to ballot proposal development, to voting. The CEC also implemented a citizen assembly model for the ballot creation and utilized a sortition process so that each borough had a representative body of members to deliberate on final recommendations.

"When I pioneered participatory budgeting in my district as a City Council Member, I saw this process empower residents because it gave everyone a voice in our neighborhood-level democracy. Witnessing the success of participatory budgeting through The People's Money initiative shows how ordinary residents can shape the future of our communities and foster a sense of shared responsibility for our city's well-being. I look forward to witnessing the positive power these projects will have on our neighborhoods and the continued engagement of New Yorkers," said Comptroller Brad Lander.

“The People`s Money is a great way to encourage civic engagement and ensures our residents have a voice in how money should be spent in their communities,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “Regardless of your age, immigration status, or any other factor that can prevent many Americans from voting, every New Yorker can have a say through this citywide participatory budgeting process. I want to thank Mayor Adams and the Civic Engagement Commission for their work on this initiative and for dismantling barriers to civic participation.” 

“Participatory budgeting is democracy at its best,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Participatory budgeting encourages New Yorkers as young as 11 to identify the problems facing their communities and ways to make a real difference. I’m so proud to have been an early champion of participatory budgeting and to see how much it has grown since my time on the City Council. Thank you to the 200,000 New Yorkers who cast their votes and helped bring these projects to life.”

“This community-led investment in local organizations and services gives New Yorkers a crucial voice in government,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “The selected projects represent the diverse needs of our city. But it’s also especially telling that voters chose to invest so deeply in mental health services because our current mental health system allows so many New Yorkers to fall through the cracks.”

"People power is the engine that moves our city, and the People's Money helps put New Yorkers in the driver's seat. Through this innovative campaign, New Yorkers came together to identify neighborhood needs and take action," said NYC Chief Equity Officer and Commissioner Sideya Sherman, NYC Mayor's Office of Equity & Racial Justice. "This year, we're proud to see that momentum continue with the launch of 46 projects across the NYC Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity (TRIE) neighborhoods and other diverse communities. This is no small feat. We are grateful for the many NYC community-based organizations leading these efforts and their persistence and passion across all five boroughs."

Out of the 46 funded projects, 13 are borough projects and 33 are neighborhood projects. A total of 259 organizations applied to implement borough projects. Evaluation committees closely reviewed each proposal, including implementation strategies and capacities. The neighborhood projects will be implemented by organizations that were part of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity (TRIE) Coalition, originally an initiative established to support communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

"It is exciting for people to see from start to finish how their voice was used and heard. They wanted something, they voted for something, got it, and now they can see it out," said Ashley Jones of the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services. "I think it gives people faith in democracy, hope in the future of democracy, and what it looks like to have their voices heard by their elected officials and the people who are charged with doing the work."

"What excites me about participatory budgeting is giving people what they want and need," said Courtney Spaulding of the Center for Independence of the Disabled.

The CEC will work closely with contracted partners to ensure they are supported, progress is effectively monitored, and projects are completed successfully. To that effect, the CEC is partnering with The New School to implement a Monitoring and Evaluation process that will help measure impact while also helping build data collection and reporting capacity of the implementing organizations.

"I am thrilled to be partnering with the Civic Engagement Commission on a series of monitoring and evaluation capacity-building workshops for the implementing organizations. Monitoring and evaluation helps turn data into information we can act on, ensuring that projects succeed. It has been very inspiring to see these organizations' commitment to their communities," said Mark Johnson, Assistant Professor of Practice in Graduate International Affairs at The New School.

Detailed information about the funded projects, updates about the current participatory budgeting cycle, and general information about "The People's Money" can be found at Parallel to seeing through the implementation of the projects funded in Cycle 1, the CEC is working on implementing Cycle II (2023-2024) of the "People's Money." New Yorkers will vote on those ballot proposals next spring, and winning projects will receive grants through the 2023-2024 city budget.

CEC's Year in Review

In addition to making history by implementing the first-ever citywide participatory budgeting process, "The People's Money," the CEC continued to work throughout 2023 on other initiatives crucial to its mission to enhance civic participation, increase civic trust, and strengthen democracy in New York City.  The charter-mandated Poll Site Language Assistance Program assisted almost 1,000 voters with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in the June Primary and the November General Election and deployed extensive voter rights and language access campaigns for LEP voters, including two in-person forums with Urdu and Arabic-speaking voters. Additionally, in partnership with other City agencies, the CEC trained over 500 community board members and staff on 11 key topics. CEC also managed two Mayoral initiatives, including the TRIE Neighborhood Initiative (TNI), and DemocracyNYC. Through TNI, CEC and its partners in 33 neighborhoods bolstered the civic infrastructure and helped close the gap on equitable participation. DemocracyNYC conducted a large-scale voter education campaign ahead of the June 2023 primary election, partnered with other City agencies on the fifth annual Civics Week across New York City schools, and held a voter registration drive on National Voter Registration Day.  Finally, CEC's Outreach team partnered with agencies and community-based organizations at hundreds of public events across New York City.

About "The People's Money"

"The People's Money" is New York City's annual citywide Participatory Budgeting (PB) process, where community members decide how to spend part of the city's budget. This democratic process is open to all New Yorkers, ages 11 and up, regardless of immigration status. Its goal is to deepen civic trust and engage communities in a process grounded in collective determination. The PB process was passed by citywide referendum in November 2018 as part of broader ballot proposals establishing the Civic Engagement Commission and mandating it to implement a yearly citywide participatory budgeting program.

In Phase 1, New Yorkers propose project ideas in person at community events organized by hundreds of organizations across the five boroughs and online through Next, in Phase 2, volunteer-based committees from the five boroughs discuss and shortlist the project ideas submitted in Phase I and develop those into ballot proposals. In Phase 3, New Yorkers 11 and older vote for their favorite proposals in person at hundreds of community partner events across the city or online. In Phase 4, once winning ballot proposals have been determined, a public request for proposals is published; evaluation committees evaluate and select proposals with the strongest implementation plans.

Prior to receiving funding to run a citywide program, the CEC ran two localized participatory budgeting processes. "It's Our Money" in 2020, focused on youth initiatives, and "The People's Money" in 2021, a $1.3 million participatory budgeting process, focused on the needs of the 33 neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19, as part of the Taskforce for Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) Neighborhood Initiative.