Cambridge Participatory Budgeting


Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The City hopes that PB will help directly involve residents in the budgeting and City-building process, foster civic engagement and community spirit, and help ensure that the City’s Capital Plan reflects the priorities of Cambridge residents.

The fifth Participatory Budgeting (PB) cycle in Cambridge will run from May-December 2018. This time, the City will set aside $900,000 of the FY20 Budget for one-time capital projects to improve the community. Winning projects from past PB cycles include a public toilet in Central Square, solar panels for the Main Library roof, bike repair stations, a freezer van for prepared food rescue, street trees, water bottle fill stations, bilingual books for children learning English, and many others.

After community members brainstorm project ideas in June and July, volunteer Budget Delegates will research and develop those ideas into formal project proposals from August through November. Proposals that are vetted by City staff and approved by the City Manager will appear on a PB ballot in December for a public vote. Winning projects will be included in the FY20 Capital Budget for adoption.


Budget Delegates are essential to Participatory Budgeting. Volunteering as a Budget Delegate is a great opportunity to become a community leader, develop teambuilding skills, get to know your neighbors, build your resume, and help make your city a better place.

Budget Delegates will review all of the ideas submitted by the community in June and July and will work during the fall to research, assess, and prioritize those ideas and determine which ones will be developed into full proposals for the PB vote in December.  

Serving as a Budget Delegate requires a significant time commitment from mid-August through October, and a smaller time commitment in mid and late November. Please review the schedule below to decide whether this role is right for you.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

Want to get involved in the next PB cycle?  Here are some other ways you can help:

  • Volunteer as a Budget Delegate – recruitment will start in early summer 2019
  • Translate outreach and voting materials into Amharic, Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish
  • Distribute PB doorhangers, flyers, and posters around the city
  • Help staff voting events during vote week in December
  • If there are other ways you’d like to support the PB process, please let us know!
As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.Benjamin Franklin