Youth Voice Project Introduction

The “Youth Voice” project is modeled after Boston’s “Youth Lead the Change” initiative where youth participate in a participatory budgeting process.  Students will create neighborhood improvement plans, and a democratic vote will follow to see whose project will be submitted to the Mayor and hypothetically funded. 

Download the entire Youth Voice Project Introduction Lesson Plan

Core Question

How does the shape that we give to our city, in turn, shape us?
Supporting Question: How can I be an active citizen?

Learning Objectives

I can explain participatory budgeting, and how it can be used to give youth a voice.
I can explain the importance of having an informed voice when advocating for something.
I can explain what my final project will be, and how to be prepared.

Supporting Text

Citizen Planners: Documenting the Process” chapter from The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City


*Definitions can be found in the glossary in the back of the Curriculum Guide.

Participatory budgeting
Urban/community design


Capability for projecting YouTube Videos

Data about the current demographics and population predictions for your city/county.  The following are provided for Nashville: 

timing recommendation

Launch: 10 min
Youth Voice Project Introduction: 15 min
Closing: 5 min
Total time: 30 min



  • City/county data ready for display

  • “Citizen” and “citizenship” definitions ready for display

Youth Voice Project Introduction:

  • Videos ready for projection: https://youth.boston.gov/youth-lead-the-change/

  • Handout: “Participatory Budgeting Notecatcher” (one per student)

  • “Urban/community design” definition ready for display.


  • Discussion questions ready for projection.



This launch is intended to help students be aware of the diverse and growing population that makes up their community beyond what they explored in the previous Neighborhood Identity activity.  This will help give purpose to the upcoming study of community design, and the need for planning.

  • Observe and discuss the data about your city/county that shows demographic make-up and growth predictions. Suggested guiding questions are below:

    • Does anything surprise you?

    • What is one thing that you didn’t already know?

    • Describe how the population of your city/county will be changing in the future.

  • Define citizen and citizenship, and discuss their meanings.

    • Citizen - An inhabitant of a city or town.

    • Citizenship - Behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen.

  • Transition into the project introduction by making the point that careful planning will need to happen in the upcoming years to make sure that your city/county grows as a community that is a healthy, functional, and beautiful for all. Citizen involvement will be critical to this happening, and the “Youth Voice” project will give them a chance to practice citizenship for positive growth and change.

Youth Voice Project Introduction

  • To introduce the “Youth Voice” project, watch the “What is a Participatory Budget Process?” video, and “Youth Lead the Change Boston Urban Innovation” video. Have students fill out the “Participatory Budgeting Notes Catcher” while they are watching. Let them share out their thoughts on having youth involved in participatory budgeting.

  • Talking points:

    • Their culminating project will be to create neighborhood improvement plans that will then be voted on by their classmates, just like the participatory budgeting process.

    • Although our city/county doesn’t have a youth participatory budgeting process, we can communicate to our city government why we think it’s a good idea. This is a way to exercise our voices.

    • In order to create high quality improvement plans, it is important to develop our community design skills and be informed.

    • Define urban/community design - the arrangement and design of buildings, public spaces, transport systems, services, and amenities. It is the process of giving form, shape, and character to groups of buildings, to whole neighborhoods, and the city.


Discuss the following two questions:

  1. Why is it important that the citizens are involved in how the community is designed?

  2. Why is it important to have an informed voice before advocating for something?

  3. Why is it important that youth have a voice?