Seattle's Participatory Budgeting Process

Introduction

In June 2021, the City of Seattle placed the development of a request for proposal (RFP) for the Participatory Budgeting process into the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR). SOCR does not distribute the funds for participatory budgeting. The RFP resulted in a contract with the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) to run the participatory budgeting program.

We will provide more updates and next steps as we coordinate with PBP.

Community Participation Needed

We need community members to participate in workgroups and committees. These are paid opportunities. Please share applications with your networks: Positions, Steering Committee, and Workgroups.

FAQs

What is Participatory Budgeting (PB)?

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process, where communities and members of the public decide how to spend allocated public funding. PB allows those generally left out and marginalized from budgetary conversations to have a voice in the process.  

Graphic explaining the participatory budgeting process. White background with teal letters.

Graphic from Participatory Budgeting Project

Where else has participatory budgeting been done?

Seattle is not the first city to utilize a participatory budgeting process. Other cities across the US have enacted similar programs, using PB to make investment decisions in education, community development, housing, and so on.  

See how participatory budgeting works in other jurisdictions and the potential Seattle holds to revolutionize the way we invest in our communities.  

Participatory Budgeting Project
New York City, NY
Cambridge, MA
Boston, MA

What does the Seattle Office for Civil Rights do?

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) works to advance civil rights and end barriers to equity.

We enforce laws against illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and contracting within Seattle city limits. We enforce the All-Gender Restrooms Ordinance, the Ban on Providing Conversion Therapy to Minors, and the Closed Captioning in Places of Public Accommodation Ordinance. 

We also lead the Race and Social Justice Initiative, a citywide effort to end institutional racism in City government and to achieve racial equity across our community. 

Learn more about what SOCR does here

What is SOCR's Role?

In collaboration with and input from community-driven organizations, SOCR will develop the parameters and criteria that will be outlined in the Request for Proposal (RFP).  

Where does the PB funding come from?

The $30 million funding for this Participatory Budgeting program came from a $100 million fund earmarked by former Mayor Jenny Durkan after community groups demanded investments into Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities during the protests for Black lives in the summer of 2020.

Timeline

May 2020

George Floyd is murdered by Minneapolis Police and nationwide protests demand police accountability.

Sept. 2020

City budget amendment directs $3 million to community-based research groups to evaluate the processes needed to reimagine public safety.

Feb. 2021

The Black Brilliance Research Project Report is submitted.

June 2021

Participatory budgeting (PB) process moves from Department of Neighborhoods to the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

Nov. 2021

Formation of the Community Investments Division in the Office for Civil Rights to house PB.

Dec. 2021

Request for Proposal for a third-party administrator to administer the PB process.

Jan. 2022

SOCR receives a proposal from the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP).

Feb. 2022

A convened rating panel moves forward with the PBP as the third-party administrator for the PB process.

March 2022

Contract negotiations begin with PBP and SOCR. Council is sent a PB award notification letter.

July 2022

Anticipated execution of PBP contract and beginning of PB Planning phase including landscape analysis, committee and workgroup recruiting, and convening of City interdepartmental team.

Sept. 2022

Anticipated start of the PB Design phase including rulebook, workshop, and content finalization.

Nov. 2022

Anticipated start of PB Idea Collection phase where community members are engaged to initially brainstorm possible proposals.

Dec. 2022

Anticipated start of PB Proposal Development phase where initial ideas are developed to ballot proposals.

March 2023

Anticipated start of PB Vote phase where ballot proposal voting occurs.

June 2023

Anticipated PB Evaluation phase where a final report is due.