The African American Roundtable invests $40,000 to launch a participatory budgeting process
"We see no better way to use once in a lifetime funding [than] to invest in the very people who make Milwaukee, Milwaukee."
-Devin Anderson, campaign and membership director at African-American Roundtable.
Since 2019, the African American Roundtable (AART) has been advocating for Milwaukee to include a participatory budgeting process in the city’s annual budget decisions. This is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public funds. Cities such as Eau Claire and Chicago utilize this practice every year.
After years of fighting for this process on the city-level, the African-American Roundtable decided to start it themselves. The organization is investing $40,000 into Milwaukee’s northwest side and they want community members to decide how that money will be spent.
Devin Anderson, the campaign and membership director at AART, shares the motivation and possible impact that an investment of this size can have on the area. A steering committee comprised of northwest side community members will decide the parameters of what projects they are looking for and who will be able to vote. This committee will narrow down proposals for their neighbors to vote on.
While launching the LiberateMKE campaign in 2019, Anderson details how the organization requested a participatory budget from the city of Milwaukee. Despite promising moments in the process, official assistance from the city never materialized. Choosing to take advantage of an opportunity to impact the area, the Roundtable elected to raise funds themselves.
"We took on this work because we believe so much in our community that we wanted to make this investment to model to our community that, 'we're here and we're going to be showing up for you all.' But also to model to the city what can happen when you make investments directly into it," says Anderson.