The People's Money

„Participatory Budgeting strengthens our democracy and deepens civic engagement. From funding arts programs to expanding food access support, this is a great way for New Yorkers to invest directly in their communities.“

Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City

The People's Money

in numbers

$5 million



language variations

208 244

counted ballots

After almost two decades of participatory budgets organized by the city's Districts themselves with the support of the City Council (see PBNYC project), the New York Mayor's office is coming up with a first ever citywide participatory budget. In 2022, The People's Money project was created and led by the NYC Civic Engagement Commission.

From city districts to the entire city

We have been working with New York City on engaging people in decision-making for several years. The current NYC Mayor, Eric Adams, decided to expand participation to the whole New York City. In addition to the city's Districts covered by PBNYC, The People's Money is adding borough-wide participation to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

The People's Money project also reflects on the past years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically impacted New York City same as the whole world. The Mayor's office allocated a portion of the total budget ($5 million) to the TRIE neighborhoods which were hit the hardest by the pandemic. Among other ways, the New York City mayor's administration tries to support these neighborhoods through participatory projects.

Map of the TRIE neighborhoods (Source: City of NYC)


Preparations for The People's Money's first citywide budget began in November 2022. The project consisted of 4 phases:

  1. Idea Generation
  2. Idea Development
  3. Citywide Voting
  4. Project Implementation

Idea Generation

Organizations that wanted to participate in the improvement of the City participated in project proposals. Of the 280 organizations that expressed interest, the City selected 82. Their topics included youth, libraries, public housing, accessibility, and the arts.

New Yorkers were able to attend a total of 523 idea-gathering sessions that the selected organizations co-hosted with the City. Over two months, more than 12,000 New Yorkers participated in the design process and developed more than 4,000 ideas for improving the TRIE neighborhoods and boroughs.

Community design of ideas to improve the city (Photo: CEC)

Idea Development

Between December 2022 and February 2023 the recieved proposals were evaluated by a committee of 20 representative resident volunteers who applied online. During this three months, the committees met several times to discuss and assess the projects going forward to the public vote. The City Hall selected eight representatives from local key partner organizations for each TRIE neighborhood. These could be, for example, the community council, a local school, or a tenants' association. For both types of the ballot (TRIE neighborhoods and boroughs), the City set out the main criteria for consideration:

  • Helping especially vulnerable people: people with disabilities, youth, seniors, war veterans, undocumented people, people with limited English skills, residents of urban apartments, people from the LGBTQ+ community, etc.
  • Impact: helping as many people as possible
  • Meaningfulness: significantly improving the quality of life for the people who will use the project
  • Need: the project addresses problems faced by multiple neighborhoods
The committee assesses the proposals for voting (Photo: CEC)


We have set up voting online on the Decision 21 platform and also created paper ballots. All New Yorkers over 11, regardless of citizenship status, were eligible to vote from May 12 to June 25, 2023. People within the boroughs cast 110,371 ballots (25,339 online and 85,032 paper ballots). For the TRIE neighborhoods, we counted 97,873 ballots (13,584 online and 84,289 paper).

What did the ballots look like?

For each TRIE neighborhood, the ballot contained 3-5 projects, with the one with the most votes receiving $50,000 for implementation. As for the city districts, their residents could choose from the following options:

  • in the Bronx from 8 projects, with each project from the winning third receiving $265,000
  • in Brooklyn from 10 projects, of which the four with the most votes received 250 thousand dollars each
  • in Queens out of 9 projects, the three projects with the most votes each received $280,000
  • in Manhattan from 8 projects, the two most popular were awarded 262.5 thousand dollars
  • on Staten Island out of 4 projects, the best gets 177 thousand dollars for implementation

All New Yorkers over the age of 11 could vote, regardless of citizenship. Participation is based on the belief that if someone lives in a given place, they should have the opportunity to co-create public space. Each New Yorker could thus comment on projects in his borough (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island), and residents of THREE areas also had a ballot for their borough. Voters also had the opportunity to fill out an optional questionnaire. Online voting as well as paper ballots and questionnaires were translated into 22 language mutations - English, Spanish and other languages ​​that are most commonly spoken in the given locations.

Language mutations of promo materials (Photo: Decision 21)

Paper ballots were distributed by the New York City Hall staff to local partner organizations and institutions, where people could vote during the election month. People could thus vote at dozens of voting places throughout the city - at non-profit organizations, in schools, libraries or even convenience stores.

Partner organization voting stand (Photo: Decision 21)

In online voting, we programmed the so-called Ballot Finder. On the initial page, all you had to do was enter your zip code and the system automatically evaluated which ballots applied to particular resident. The voter only had to choose the preferred language.

Digital form of voting (Photo: Decision 21)

The ballots were as diverse as the city itself. We provided ballots "tailored" to each voter with a possible combination:

  • of one of the five boroughs
  • with or without a ballot of one of the 33 TRIE neighborhoods
  • with a preferred language from a selection of up to 22 possible language mutations
  • in paper or digital form
  • We have ensured digital voting with full accessibility for disabled people

Promotion of The People's Money

The whole project The People's Money, including the voting phase, was accompanied by a promo campaign. Its goal was to inform the residents of New York about the existence of the project, its goals and to motivate them to participate.

The People's Money billboard (Photo: CEC)

Local artists also participated in the promotion. The Town Hall drew attention to the project through social networks, the website, posters and billboards in the streets, as well as street celebrations and an allegorical car.

Voting campaign (Photo: CEC)

Voting results

The results of the citywide participatory budgeting are presented by members of the NYC Civic Engagement Commission in the following video.

Detailed results can also be found here.

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