‘What difference would that make?'

A participatory budgeting pilot in ten Chicago Public Schools empowers students to influence change by deciding how small grants, typically $1,000 to $2,000, should be spent for school improvement. Students brainstorm ideas, construct persuasive proposals, and vote on which to implement, providing valuable lessons in civic participation. The proposals revealed student needs that staff hadn’t previously considered. Ultimately, grants supported gender-neutral bathrooms, locker room shower curtains, a peer mentoring program, and spaces for students to reflect and decompress when feeling overwhelmed.

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