After years of urging the City of Milwaukee to establish a participatory budgeting process that would give residents a say in how city resources are spent, the African American Roundtable has launched its own initiative.
The organization’s Participatory Budgeting Program will allow Northwest Side residents to propose, vote on and execute ideas on community-led projects.
“We believe the decision on how money is spent should be left in the resident’s hands,” said Devin Anderson, the African American Roundtable’s membership and coalition manager. “So, we felt it was worth putting our money where our mouth is and creating a process where residents are included.”
Applications for the program close Friday, Aug.4.
$40,000 in grant funding available
The African American Roundtable will distribute $40,000 in grants to community-led projects that improve the quality of life for residents on the Northwest Side — an area the organization’s leaders say has seen decades of divestment, lack of leadership and neglect.
To apply, you must be a Northwest Side resident who is 18 or older, a church, organization or Northwest Side collective (neighborhood associations/groups) or a business serving this area.
Projects must support neighborhood safety or wellness and be based on the Northwest Side.
“I’m excited to be a part of this process and to see and hear what residents propose — and to see the community come together and make crucial decisions,” Anderson said.
The group plans to launch the voting cycle Aug. 12 at its Northwest Side block party at Henry David Thoreau Elementary School, 7878 N. 60th St.
“We wanted our voting process to reflect the community this program is meant to serve,” Anderson said. “Because this is our program, we get to determine what democracy looks like, so we opened up the voting eligibility.”
Although the organization has created its own program, members said their advocacy for a city-funded program will not stop.
Group urges city to create participatory budget process
The African American Roundtable wants the City of Milwaukee adopt a participatory budgeting process to give residents the abilities to propose, vote on and implement local budgeting decisions.
Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members decide how public dollars are spent.
“The question is: Do we want people civically engaged or not?” said Markasa Tucker-Harris, the executive director of the African American Roundtable. “If we do, then it’s the city’s job to follow through and allow residents to be engaged.”
The group wants its program to inspire others.
“In addition to improving the lives of people in Milwaukee, we’re hoping our program can be used as a blueprint in other communities across the country that are craving for change,” Tucker-Harris said. “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
For more information
Winners of the program will be announced in late fall.
You can follow the African American Roundtable on Facebook.