School Participatory Budgeting: A Case for Student-Led Decision-Making

Tara Lyn Bartlett Rock Research Assistant, PhD Candidate
Madison Rock Project Manager, Civic Health
Phoenix, AZ

School participatory budgeting (school PB) is a civic learning innovation designed to build student agency, collaboration, and critical thinking through a student-led decision-making process on school budget allocations. Like the municipal model, school PB has been implemented worldwide and has been shown to increase political knowledge, deliberative skills, democratic values, trust in institutions, and electoral and civic engagement. In this talk, the presenters share the history and evolution of school PB, how to implement a school PB process, and the impact of school community-led decision-making in creating pathways for youth to participate in community and civic life for the long term.

Impacts of Participatory Budgeting

Inclusive School Participatory Budgeting Toolkit

Tara Lyn Bartlett is a doctoral candidate in Arizona State University’s Educational Policy and Evaluation program. Her research focuses on youth participatory governance, community development, and civic engagement. Tara has experience working on both small and large-scale civic engagement projects across the U.S. and globe, as well as 14 years of experience teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies in Title I middle schools. Tara’s work explores ways educational institutions can better integrate participatory governance opportunities for youth and families and equip youth with the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices to become political and civic change makers within their own communities.

As the Project Manager of Civic Health Initiatives at the Center for the Future of Arizona, Madison Rock supports strategies and initiatives to improve Arizona’s civic health, including the school participatory budgeting program where students “learn democracy by doing” by making decisions over a portion of the district’s budget. Madison has been deeply engaged with the SPB model since its early adoption in Phoenix Union and has supported its scale to 48 schools across six Arizona school districts. She also serves as a global mentor on the model in the Rising Stars PB Mentorship Program. Madison graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Service and Public Policy and is currently pursuing an Executive Masters of Public Administration at her alma mater.

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