The City of Boston was awarded the top prize at The Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation’s international convening held in Guangzhou, China. Boston’s youth participatory budgeting process, “Youth Lead the Change,” was selected from 301 innovation projects submitted by 171 cities to receive the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. Boston is the first city in the United States to receive this award.
Francesco Tena, Manager of the Mayor’s Youth Council, accepted the award on behalf of the city.
The Mayor’s Youth Council, a key initiative of Boston Centers for Youth & Families Division of Youth Engagement & Employment, has facilitated Youth Lead the Change since 2014.
“Boston is providing a platform for young people to lead today while also making government more accessible and responsive,” Tena said. “Cities around the world are realizing that there are huge benefits to engaging young people meaningfully in local government.”
Youth Lead the Change has gone through three voting phases and funded 17 projects totaling $2.8 million. Projects funded include providing laptops in schools, park renovations, adding trash cans and recycling bins and installing wifi in schools and community centers. Since the program began, delegations from countries around the world have visited Boston to learn from its approach to youth engagement.
The Guangzhou Award recognizes innovation in improving social, economic and environmental sustainability in cities and regions that advance the prosperity and quality of life of their citizens. Presented biannually, the award encourages and recognizes outstanding innovative projects and practices in the public sector.
“The Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation has made a very positive impact,” said Parks Tau, president of United Cities and Local Governments, a co-organizer of the event.