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A vital fund for Baltimore

How will decisions on youth fund be made?

The Sun article, "Baltimore voters asked to approve special fund for youths, but without some details" (Oct. 6), presented an incomplete picture of plans for a city youth fund that may have left some readers confused or skeptical.

This fund, if approved by city voters on Nov. 8, will create an exciting opportunity for greater citizen involvement in financial decision-making through an innovative process called participatory budgeting (PB). Over the next few months, a diverse group of Baltimore stakeholders will collaborate with Strong City Baltimore, the national Participatory Budgeting Project, and the office of City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young to develop recommendations for a Baltimore PB process, a plan that would give citizens "real power over real money." This proposal will be evaluated and, hopefully, accepted by the City Council as a part of its plan to administer the Youth Fund.

At the three PB information sessions Strong City hosted last month, attendees made it clear that they want smaller and under-resourced organizations to be represented when youth funding decisions are made. PB is a way to ensure that the "usual suspects" are not the only ones with a place at the table.

Participatory budgeting is a step in the direction of more responsive and accountable municipal government. By directly involving our young residents in budgeting and city-building, we will begin to foster a greater sense of civic engagement and community inclusion and help ensure that the new youth fund reflects the priorities of all Baltimore residents.

Tyson W. Garith, Baltimore

The writer is director of partnerships and business services for Strong City Baltimore.

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