Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a process implemented in the 1990s where residents of certain regions can influence how their governments' annual budgets are allocated. After the collapse of its authoritarian regime in the mid 1980s, Brazilians implemented reforms to bolster their economic and political futures through participatory methods. These new democratic practices drastically improved the lives and social infrastructure of its participants.
As the first ward-based participatory budgeting experiment in the United States, the Participatory Budgeting Initiative in Chicago's 49th Ward began in November of 2009 with the goal of directly allocating a portion of the Alderman’s capital budget for the 49th Ward by residents. Citizens gathered to discuss, deliberate, and vote into implementation projects totaling $1.3 million dollars. Forming six themed committees of 16-20 residents each, the participants created 36 proposals to better the Ward’s infrastructure.
Since 2002, the city of Grenoble, France, has engaged citizens in public decision-making through participatory committees and town meetings. Residents have been able to express their opinions and make recommendations on city planning, education, cultural life, and other municipal issues. Over the years, this program has strengthened local democracy and empowered public participation in important civic projects.