Long Beach is giving its youth the power to decide how public funds are spent

By Kristen Farrah Naeem, Signal Tribune

The City of Long Beach is preparing to distribute public funding for youth development, and, for the first time, is asking local youth to help them decide where the money will go.

There are two phases in the new Youth Power Participatory Budgeting Long Beach program. First, the City is asking nonprofit organizations whose goals align with the Youth Emerging Adults Strategic Plan to submit ideas for summer programs for local youth by March 17.

The second phase of the program will begin in May, when youth that live, work or visit Long Beach will be able to vote on which summer programs will receive funding—either online or at a planned voting fair. Nonprofits whose ideas garner the most votes will receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $75,000.

This is the first time the City of Long Beach has asked the youth to lead a budgeting process, and will serve as a pilot program.

Carlos Romeo, President of the Long Beach Neighborhood Foundation, uses a dry erase marker to sign a $500 grant presented to a youth group in the Long Beach area on Feb. 6, 2022. The foundation gave out grants to seven youth groups and will supply funds for musical supplies, competition entry fees, club spirit wear, magazine publication, homeless care packages, and charity donations. (Richard H. Grant | Signal Tribune)

The Youth Power Participatory Budgeting Long Beach program will be led by the Office of Youth Development, The Nonprofit Partnership and the Long Beach Invest In Youth Coalition, with assistance from local nonprofit Khmer Girls In Action.

The funding comes from Measure US, which was passed by voters and went into effect in October 2021 and doubled the tax rate on every barrel of oil produced in Long Beach. The City of Long Beach has allocated $300,000 of this money to youth summer programs. 

The money will be divided between the Youth Power Participatory Budgeting Long Beach program, which will fund programs by official nonprofits, and The Youth 100 Fund, which gives smaller grants to informal student, parent and neighborhood groups.

“Investing in our youth and ensuring they have the tools, resources and support needed to foster their development and future success is a priority for our City,” said Mayor Rex Richardson in a public statement. “We’re thrilled for the opportunity, through Measure US, to once again provide these grants to community organizations that support local youth through their programs and services.”

A previous version of this article stated that Long Beach youth would be able to vote on $400,000 in public funds. The correct amount in public funding is $300,000. The Signal Tribune regrets this error.

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