Participatory Budgeting Project



Brooklyn, NY

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $1,467,731
Expenses: $2,040,900
Assets: $951,434


Civic Organization



Executive Directors:

Shari Davis, Kristina Banks, Kristiana De Leon

Latest Tax Filing:

2021 990 Form

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The Participatory Budgeting Project is an organization based in Brooklyn, New York that advocates for and facilitates the working of participatory budget process policies allowing members of given communities to directly decide on a portion of a government body’s spending. The organization’s advocacy campaign, Democracy Beyond Elections, particularly supports such policies in connection with funds disbursed through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


In 2005, the founders of what would become the Participatory Budgeting Project, Josh Lerner, Michael Menser, and Gianpaolo Baiocchi, met at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. There they agreed to build a website together, which would offer informational resources to individuals and groups based in the United States and Canada interested in advocating for participatory budgeting, a policy concept involving members of a given community directly deciding on a portion of a given government body’s spending. Later these three individuals became connected with Joe Moore, then a Chicago City Alderman, and activists affiliated with Community Voices Heard (a left-of-center New York City-based organization that promotes increased funding for social welfare) who later supported the group’s growth in the U.S. 1

In 2009, Lerner and Baiocchi launched the Participatory Budget Project to formalize their activity in support of a participatory budget policy in Chicago’s 49th Ward, the first of its kind in the United States. Later in 2011, the group incorporated as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the name Participatory Budget Process, Inc. in Brooklyn, New York with Lerner taking the role of the organization’s executive director and Menser of board president. 2 3


Governmental Services

In addition to advocating for participatory budgeting policies, the Participatory Budgeting Project also directly offers services to government bodies that have implemented or are in the process of implementing such policies. For instance, the organization offers planning consultations, briefings, coaching sessions, evaluations, workshops, and activist trainings. As of August 28, 2023, the organization notes that the total cost for such services in connection with starting a participatory budgeting process range from $3,000 to 20,000 and for implementing one, $20,000 to $65,000 (not including travel costs). 4

Among its clients, the organization lists the City Council of New York City; the New York State Department of Education; the City of Oakland, California; the City of Seattle, Washington; the City of Boston, Massachusetts; and the City of Greensboro, North Carolina. Beyond the U.S., the organization also notes clients in Canada, Sweden, and Australia. 5

Democracy Beyond Elections

Democracy Beyond Elections is the Participatory Budget Project’s advocacy campaign. In particular, the campaign promotes the idea of using participatory budgeting policies to distribute funds granted by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed during beginning of the Biden Administration in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, for a period the campaign offered grants of $10,000 to aligned local organizations that committed to advocate for and implement participatory budgeting processes to so distribute ARPA funds. 6 7 8 9

Partner organizations of the campaign include national left-of-center advocacy organizations including the Center for Popular Democracy, People’s Action Institute, the Center for New Democratic Processes, the New Economy Coalition, Generation Citizen, and Public Agenda. 10


Shari Davis is the co-executive director of the Participatory Budgeting Project. From 2018 to 2020, Davis had also worked in that role alongside the organization’s founder, Josh Lerner. However, when the latter left the organization in 2020, Davis worked as the organization’s sole executive director until 2021, during which the organization hired two more executive directors: Kristiania De Leon and Kristinia Banks. Previously, Davis was the director of Youth Engagement and Employment for the City of Boston, and the Citywide Neighborhood Safety Coordinator on the Boston Mayor’s Youth Council. 11 12


  1. “Mission, History, and Values.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  2. “Mission, History, and Values.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  3. “Participatory Budgeting Process, Inc. ProPublica. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  4. “Technical Assistance.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  5.  “Our Clients.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  6. ” THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA).” Democracy Beyond Elections. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  7. “Democracy Beyond Elections.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  8. “About.” Democracy Beyond Elections. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  9. Tankersley, Jim, Crowley, Michael. “Here are the highlights of Biden’s $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan.’” The New York Times. January 14, 2021. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  10. “Partners.” Democracy Beyond Elections. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  11. “Our Team.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
  12. “Mission, History, and Values.” Participatory Budgeting Project. Accessed August 28, 2023.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2012

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Dec Form 990 $1,467,731 $2,040,900 $951,434 $235,389 N $1,068,248 $247,226 $0 $0
    2020 Dec Form 990 $1,270,279 $1,412,635 $1,501,107 $211,893 N $1,084,265 $181,702 $0 $105,103
    2019 Dec Form 990 $1,965,718 $1,271,390 $1,471,664 $40,094 N $1,839,978 $124,988 $0 $153,758 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $1,363,374 $1,207,562 $774,576 $37,334 Y $1,154,612 $208,762 $0 $114,417 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,053,128 $1,516,864 $654,472 $73,042 N $755,074 $298,054 $0 $72,220 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,003,278 $1,339,627 $1,120,600 $75,434 N $1,689,663 $313,190 $0 $68,333 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,027,949 $1,046,067 $307,377 $260,356 N $604,039 $421,180 $0 $560,041 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $803,330 $770,359 $272,447 $191,309 N $588,875 $219,287 $0 $378,243 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $346,538 $356,483 $129,382 $88,747 N $185,379 $161,159 $0 $189,649 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990EZ $143,690 $111,988 $96,891 $46,311 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Participatory Budgeting Project

    Brooklyn, NY 11215-1493