Participatory Budgeting


Idea submission and Budget Delegate Recruitment has closed!

We've seen an incredible outpouring of community support and engagement with hundreds of ideas generated from across the city and we're so thankful for everyone that's helped make this a success so far. So, what happens now? Over the next few months, volunteers known as Budget Delegates from throughout the community will work to review and refine your ideas in preparation for a public vote this fall. Stay tuned to our PB social media on FaceBook and Twitter for updates and if you have any questions or interest in supporting the PB process in other ways, please email





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Our participatory budgeting initiative is a democratic process that allows residents to help determine how public funds are spent. It gives people real power over public money. Participatory budgeting allows residents to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects, and gives them the power to make real decisions about how money is spent.

Here's how the process will unfold over the course of the next year.  

  1. Design the Process: A steering committee that represents the community creates the rules and engagement plan 
  2. Brainstorm Ideas: Through meetings and online tools, residents share and discuss ideas for projects
  3. Develop Proposals: Volunteer "budget delegates" develop the ideas into feasible proposals
  4. Vote: Residents vote on the proposals that most serve the community's needs
  5. Fund Winning Projects: The City funds and implements the winning ideas

PBGR Rulebook

The PBGR rulebook is being developed in Grand Rapids for the first time in 2021 by a Steering Committee consisting of community volunteers from each Ward. This plan will be revised annually as future Steering Committee members tailor the process to best serve the unique needs, interests, and issues found in our neighborhoods. This rulebook remains a work in progress.

Download PBGR Rulebook(PDF, 5MB)

Available Funds

The initial funds for Participatory Budgeting GR are provided for by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA funds have limitations based on federal mandates. The participatory budgeting process follows PBP best practice for municipal budgeting which outlines $1 million per 100,000 in population. The $2 million that Grand Rapids has set aside for participatory budgeting exceeds similar sized cities such as Oakland, CA ($185K per 100K), Durham, NC ($889K per 100K) and Sacramento, CA ($200K per 100K).

The City Commission decided to distribute funds through graduated dispersal of $2 million across the City’s three wards. This allows for investment based in part on the distribution of demographic and economic factors in each Ward. The division of funds helps helps address historical disparities across the wards. The graduated ward distribution of funds includes:

  • First Ward - $600,000
  • Second Ward -$400,000
  • Third Ward - $1,000,000

Project Idea Parameters

The initial funds for Participatory Budgeting GR are provided for by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA funds have limitations based on federal mandates. To help community members understand what can be funded, we've provided guidance on expenditures to align with ARPA requirements. 

  • Infrastructure investments related to water, wastewater and broadband
  • Evidence-based violence reduction strategies
  • Remediation of lead paint or other lead hazards in homes
  • Economic and health impacts of COVID-19 (includes assistance to households, small business and nonprofits)
  • Incentive pay to front-line workers
  • Investments in housing and re-housing
  • Addressing educational disparities
  • Investing in healthy childhood environments 

Project Schedule

The participatory budgeting process takes time to complete. The steering committee helps guide and facilitate the progress of the process. As this is the initial year for the participatory budgeting for the City of Grand Rapids, some of the timeline dates will be added as we work through the process. Peer cities are on 9-12 month timelines but our goal remains to have it be a shorter process. 

Action Responsible Timeline
Form steering committee City Commission June - July 2021
Steering committee orientation Steering Committee and City Staff July 29 - August 12, 2021
Steering committee rule adoption  Steering Committee and City Staff September 2021
Plan and conduct initial engagement  Steering Committee and Public October 2021 - June 2022
Refine final concepts for vote  Steering Committee and City Staff June - Aug. 2022
Public voting and selection  Steering Committee and Public Sept. - Oct. 2022
Commission adoption City Commission Oct. -Nov. 2022
Project implementation Staff and Steering Committee TBD

Two dozen neighborhood and community partners are pledging their support to help engage residents in the Participatory Budgeting Grand Rapids (PBGR) process. The PBGR Committee has formed partnerships with non-profits in all three City wards to encourage outreach and engagement.
The selected partner agencies, which align with the PBGR Committee’s vision and goals, will perform outreach to their members and respective districts. Their goal will be to collect ideas and increase PBGR voter participation especially among those residents in underrepresented communities. The PBGR Committee will work with the groups to ensure engagement and outreach is meeting the equity goals set by the process and that idea submissions parallel the demographic composition of each ward.

The partner agencies include:

Help us spread the word! Download promotional resources to get more of our community members involved.

Document Files

Logo Files

To download, click on the link. Then, right click the image, select "Save image as", and save it to your device. 


The PB steering committee is a collection of community residents, three from each of the city wards.

First Ward

  • Mallory Patterson
  • Adnoris (Bo) Torres
  • Michael Scholten

Second Ward

  • Doug Booth
  • Lisa Knight
  • Cailin Kelly

Third Ward

  • Kristian Grant
  • LaKiya Thompson-Jenkins
  • Kenneth Hoskins

Steering Committee Minutes and Documents

The participatory budgeting steering committee meetings take place each week. We'll post our meeting minutes and related documents for transparency of our process and discussion. 



City Support Staff

The City has assigned staff members to support the steering committee's participatory budgeting process efforts. They'll assist in planning and liaison work with appropriate departments to support and respond to inquiries.

  • Doug Matthews, Manager and Chief Administrative Services Officer
  • Lou Canfield, Chief of Staff
  • Gricelda Estrada, Administrative Secretary
  • Asante Cain, Assistant to the City Manager
  • Laura Olson, Assistant to the Mayor
  • Sharra Poncil, Liability Risk Management Analyst
  • David Green, Communications Department Director
  • Kathi Harris, Community Outreach Specialist