Lesson 5

Lesson Topics: Participatory Budgeting: Brainstorming and Crafting a Project Proposal

Aim: To shape an idea into a proposal to improve your council district

Skills to be Addressed:

  • Working with peers to promote discussion and decision making
  • Working with peers to envision a project to improve the city
  • Setting goals, deadlines, and establishing individual roles in a group


Students will

  • Finish brainstorming ideas to improve their council district.
  • Understand the participatory budgeting process.
  • Collaborate with peers to begin creating a project proposal to improve their district.

Common Core Standards Addressed:

    • Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
    • Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.
    • Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
    • Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express  information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    • Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media  (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

Timeframe: One 60-minute period.


  • Computer(s) with access to Internet, including one that can be displayed on a screen.
  • Parent Kid Laundromat Project
  • Parent Laundromat Sketch
  • PB Project Display Example
  • Project Proposal Form


I. Complete Brainstorming for Participatory Budgeting.

If necessary, review the process of participatory budgeting from Lesson 4, replaying the 4-minute video from the last lesson, “Real Money, Real Power,” https://vimeo.com/162743651 and showing this graphic:

  • Explain that students will finish the first step and begin the second step today.
  • Record all student ideas for improving your district, along with ideas collected from the previous lesson.
    • Consider:
      • Expanding business opportunities
      • Park improvements
      • Gardens
      • Art, such as murals, music, sculpture
      • Activities for babies, toddlers, children and teenagers
      • Activities for seniors citizens
      • Activities for people with disabilities
      • Stopping bullying
      • Recycling
      • Projects for schools
      • Transportation
  • Group the ideas into categories (i.e., parks, transportation, recycling, etc.)

II. Groups Prepare Project Proposals

  • Explain this imaginary scenario:

One million dollars has been set aside for participatory budget improvements to our district. We’ve been asked to come up with project proposals to spend the money. In groups, you will choose one of the ideas we’ve listed in our brainstorming session and create a written proposal, a sketch, and a display about the project. The class will vote on the top [top three] best projects.

Your class can actually present their ideas to your councilor, by letter, in a private meeting with the councilor or his staff, or at an actual City Council meeting.

Turning an idea into an actual proposal will mean thinking it through as thoroughly as possible. Ask yourselves:

What problem will this project solve or help?,

What exactly do you propose?

How do you envision the project?

What will you need for the project?

How much do you estimate it would it cost?

Let’s say your idea is to build a laundromat in your district, a laundromat where moms or dads can get their laundry done while they are looking after their baby or small children.

Here’s how you might write up the project. (Show Parent Kid Laundromat Project).

Go over the parts of the project proposal.

Examine the cost of the project. How did someone come up with this amount?

Look at the drawing of the project, Parent Laundromat Sketch.

Your job will be to write up your project, to sketch it, and to create a display that will sell your project to other students.

  • Hand out Project Proposal Form to help guide students’ thinking.
  • Show PB Project Display Example as an example of the kind of display students will create.

The deadline for your project proposal is _________________.

On that day, we’ll vote on the winning project(s).

  • Form groups. Groups select ideas they would like to turn into project proposals.
  • Students use the rest of the class time to work on their proposal.

III. Possible Homework:

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