"Youth Lead the Change" is a participatory budgeting program in Boston in which youth decide how to spend $1,000,000 of the City’s budget. Boston is the first city to have such a program. While NYC has a similar participatory budgeting program, it does not have a dedicated process just for youth. Instead, young people can participate in the general participatory budgeting process. Image © City of Boston



We believe youth should be involved in the decision-making process for issues that affect them. For youth involvement to work, the voices of young people must carry some weight. It’s not enough to invite young people to be part of a meeting then never listen to them as equals or implementing their ideas. Teens should not only be asked their opinion on already developed questions; they should have a say in what those questions are, in the issues that they bring up, and in how they are framed. There are some formal avenues for youth involvement in the city, like being a member of their Community Board, contributing to Participatory Budgeting, and joining The New York City Youth Council. But the city can do more to engage youth when it comes to public space design, school reform, and criminal justice reform.