Authored by Ira Schlosser
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Teens to Help City of Boston Spend A Million Dollars

February 11th, 2014 by Ira Schlosser

Two teens from Viet-AID's High School Peer Leadership Program will have a very exciting, real-life experience in civic engagement this spring, helping the City of Boston make decisions on how to spend real money.  In creating the last budget of his 20 years in office, Mayor Thomas Menino set aside $1 million for capital projects to be allocated entirely by youths.  The City has signed an agreement with a non-profit organization called the Participatory Budgeting Project to help launch the Youth Participatory Budgeting Process.  According to the City of Boston's statement, starting in January and running to July, youth from all parts of Boston will come together as a steering committee to "identify projects to improve their communities, vet those projects, consider trade-offs, and vote on how to spend the $1 million." Last fall, the City posted an open invitation to all young residents, youth groups and other organizations to apply for membership on the Steering Committee.  Viet-AID was very fortunate to have two members of the Youth Program selected to this committee. As peer leaders of Viet-AID's Leadership Alliance (VALA), Tony Nguyen, a junior year at John D. O'Bryant High School, and Vicky Nguyen (no relation to Tony), a sophomore at the same school will serve as youth representatives on the steering committee. "This is a very exciting opportunity for the young people personally, and for Viet-AID as well," said Carro Hua, who is the Youth Leadership Coordinator and Americorps Massachusetts Promise fellow. "Tony and Vicky will gain a hands-on civic experience along with their other peers as they will also participate in the general participatory budgeting process and as the process unfolds, we will have the opportunity to witness the important impact to our neighborhoods led by young people." As of this writing, the Youth Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee will have had its first meeting, launching this groundbreaking program. When the program concludes later this year, decisions will have been made on a million dollars worth of tangible improvements in the City of Boston.  We at Viet-AID are so pleased to know that our young people will have played a part in developing those plans.

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