We are delighted to release Youth Citizenship in Action, an evaluation report on the Participatory Budgeting in Schools pilot program. Public schools in the United States play a critical role in preparing students to become citizens and to participate in civic life. A healthy democracy needs informed, active citizens. In other words, it requires citizens with a sense of agency.
In this newest report from the Great Cities Institute, we share results from three Chicago Public Schools that took part in participatory budgeting processes as part of their civic classes in the spring semester of 2018. After the process was over, more than 80% of students who responded to evaluation questionnaire said that they felt like they had the power to influence their communities or school, that people working together can solve community problems better than people working alone, and that they had a better understanding of the needs at their community and school.
The Participatory Budgeting in Schools pilot program—rolled out by PB Chicago, an initiative of UIC’s Great Cities Institute in collaboration with Our City Our Voice, together with Chicago Public Schools—revealed these and other overwhelmingly positive results. The report shares extensive results from interviews with teachers in all of the participating schools, responses from student questionnaires, and recommendations for how to improve implementation of PB in Schools in future years.
We have long been proponents of building a healthy and robust democracy, particularly now. As participating CPS schools prepare to implement PB in Schools during the 2018–19 school year, this report and its results and recommendations can serve as an important tool for bolstering the program in the classroom and helping to give the skills, experience and knowledge needed to create informed and active citizens of the future. As one teacher said, “The civics goals are about students participating, actually getting up, not just letting things happen, but them being movers and shakers. And that is all the PB process is about, it’s about the students participating not the adults telling them what to do but the students generating their ideas. That is what the goal is for the curriculum, for students to participate in their civics.”
Read the full report here.