Local Grassroots Groups Launch Participatory Budgeting Cleveland (PB CLE) to Raise Resident Input on Use of Recovery Funding in Participatory Budgeting Pilot


CONTACT: Molly Martin
Cell: 440-666-8549

May 28, 2021

Cleveland, OH, May 21, 2021—Over 150 Cleveland residents over the last month attended one of 19 house meetings to voice how they think the City of Cleveland should spend part of the $512 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The house meetings are part of a larger strategy to win a people’s budget in Cleveland.

Participatory Budgeting Cleveland (PB CLE) is a group of Cleveland residents and grassroots groups determined to incorporate resident voices in the decision-making process of our shared resources. Participatory budgeting centers the people and elevates under-recognized voices in spending decisions at the local level. Nearly one million people across the U.S. have allocated $400 million using participatory budgeting, and Cleveland residents are joining a community of forward-thinking cities by generating their own ideas on how Cleveland should spend the recovery funds using participatory budgeting.

The American Rescue Plan provides a unique opportunity to launch participatory budgeting in Cleveland. Cleveland residents are the experts in what they need, and PB CLE is calling on elected officials to establish a participatory budgeting process that allocates funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, while also committing to using participatory budgeting as part of every budget cycle going forward. We have asked that the City incorporate residents’ voices, visions, and decisions in determining how to spend $30.8 million of $512 million in federal recovery funds through participatory budgeting. That number represents the percentage of Cleveland residents living in poverty – the residents we believe need to be fully centered for a just recovery.

“Participatory Budgeting aligns with our mission of building black political power,” said Anastasia Sakairoun, organizer with Freedom BLOC (Black-Led Organizing Collaborative). “We must allow those who are the most impacted by the lack of resources in our community to have direct input on how funds are allocated.”

The 150+ Cleveland residents who attended house meetings helped develop dozens of policy ideas that will be posted on webpage through Refund Cleveland, where thousands of Clevelanders will be able to vote this summer on the ideas they most want to see funded to benefit their communities.

“We are advocating for the usage of the American Rescue Plan funding to be decided through a Participatory Budgeting process, in which residential input is collected and created into policy ideas and then the entire community votes on how the government will use the funding,” said Pearl Chen, spokesperson for Utilities for All.

“Through participatory budgeting, PB CLE is showing us what direct democracy could look like in our own community. As an organizer for utility justice, I am calling for the money to be used towards replacement of lead-filled piping, immediate debt relief for those behind on their utility payments, and access to broadband internet for all residents of Cuyahoga County,” said Chen.

PB CLE coalition partners:
Bike Cleveland
Black Lives Matter Cleveland
Cleveland Owns
Cray Consulting Group, Inc
Freedom BLOC
InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia
Kings & Queens of Art
Neighborhood Connections
Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless
Project Coping Box
Refund Cleveland
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

*The PB CLE coalition is committed to values of anti-racism, equity, pro-democracy, and authentic and robust participation. We value the process as much as the outcome. Therefore, we are committed to uplifting resident perspectives and the voices of people of color in our engagement with the media whenever possible.*

Pearl Chen, Utilities for All | pearl@irtfcleveland.org; 614-441-1150
Robin Brown, CCOAL (Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead) | projectinfo216@gmail.com; 216-744-0761
Gwen Garth, owner of Kings & Queens of Art, proud member of the Neighbor Up network |
gwendolyngarth@gmail.com; 216-339-0571
Anastasia Sakairoun, Freedom BLOC (Black-Led Organizing Collaborative) | asakairoun@thefreedombloc.org;
● “Participatory Budgeting empowers citizens to use their voice in our democracy. As the Policy Strategist for
Freedom BLOC, I can avidly say that Participatory Budgeting aligns with our mission of building black
political power. It is vital for Cleveland residents to be included in the positive changes we want to see in
our community. We must allow those who are the most impacted by the lack of resources in our
community to have direct input on how funds are allocated.”

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