Every year since 2011, the New York City Council organizes a Participatory Budgeting (PBNYC).
The PBNYC enables New York City residents to propose and vote on projects in their City Council districts. Projects that receive the most votes will be funded through a Council Member's discretionary funds. Discretionary funds are allocated on an annual basis by Council Members based on their understanding of community needs.
During PBNYC cycle 5 (2016-2017), New Yorkers had the opportunity to vote for their five favorite projects proposed in their Districts. Each participating Council Member offered at least $1 million in funding for the proposals that tally the most votes. 67,000 New Yorkers voted to allocate $38 million for locally-developed capital projects across 28 Council Districts in New York City. Council Members then submit winning projects to be allocated in the City's upcoming fiscal year budget. The projects are then implemented by City agencies.
Two years after the PBNYC got voted, the hydroponic laboratory for a classroom to improve STEM curriculum and enhance green initiatives for the community opened for an Upper East Side public school. This Lab, facilitate by the non-profit NY Sun Works, offers students the opportunity to grow food, while learning about nutrition, water resource management, efficient land use, climate change, biodiversity, conservation, contamination, pollution, waste management, and sustainable development.
Every year, in the framework of the PBNYC, each district collect project ideas and recruit volunteers for Budget Delegates and facilitators, at least four special meetings for underrepresented community members and neighborhood assemblies are organized. Youth, senior, non-English speaking communities are included in the discussions. Citizens over 11 years old can vote for projects at different events organized by the budget delegates.
The School Lab Project got 2 113 votes in 2017 for a cost of $600,000.