If you’re 14 years or older and live in Pawtucket, Central Falls, or Central Providence, then your vote is needed. It’s called participatory budgeting, which is defined as: A democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It’s a tool to empower everyone, not just those of voting age and privilege, to make decisions about how funds should be spent in their communities.
In a nutshell: From May 30–June 13, residents of Pawtucket and Central Falls may vote to decide how $385,000 is spent to improve the health and well-being in their communities. And from June 6–June 20, residents of Central Providence (zip codes 02908 and 02909) may vote to decide how $1,000,000 is spent to improve the health and well-being in their community.
Last year, community members in both areas brainstormed ideas for improvement then developed those ideas into project proposals, all of which are designed to address the social determinants of health in their communities.
As stated on decideri.org, social determinants of health “have a greater influence on health than other factors, like genetics, individual choices, or access to healthcare. They are shaped by forces like structural racism, poverty, and the distribution of money, power, and resources at the global, national, and local levels. Social determinants of health influence the opportunities available to people to live healthy lives.”
Participatory budgeting puts residents in control by asking what’s important to them, what change do they want to see, and then gives them the power and resources to make it happen. So if you’re 14 or older and live in Pawtucket, Central Falls, or Central Providence, how will you shape your community?
For complete descriptions on project proposals, rule books outlining the process, a glossary of terms, and information on upcoming meetings and voting sites, visit decideri.org.
Project Proposals for Pawtucket/Central Falls
Outdoor Learning & Arts at River Island Park: mural painting, activity supplies, transportation, and outdoor job opportunities for adults and youth to support the Outdoor Classroom & Theater at River Island Park.
Food with Friends: Eat Better, Live Better: bring communities together once a month for cooking events that include demos, free meals, coupons, affordable and healthy groceries, and music and dancing.
High School Tutors for 1st & 2nd Graders: an employment opportunity for high school students wherein they provide meaningful one-on-one literacy support for elementary students.
Financials for Families: provide free financial literacy classes, 1-1 coaching, and training to become a financial coach in multiple languages.
Suds for Hope: Mobile Laundry Truck: provide unhoused and low-income community members with free, safe, and easy access to laundry facilities and resources.
Youth Soccer & Academic Support: provide youth with free soccer and academic support programs including access to equipment and tutoring services.
Pass the Plate: Life Starts with Healthy Eating: teach eighth-grade students the importance of healthy food through cooking and nutrition lessons, recipes, and food samples.
In My Language, I understand better! Interpreter Services for All: two full-time Language Resource Specialists, free language interpreter certification programs, and handheld interpreter equipment.
Mental Health: End the Stigma Campaign: a multi-media campaign to bring awareness to mental health needs for people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds.
Sprinkler Water Park & Outdoor Fitness Park: installation of a free sprinkler water park in Pawtucket and outdoor fitness area in Central Falls.
Project Proposal for Central Providence
Water Fountains & Reading Gardens for Our Parks: add drinking water fountains and reading gardens to Riverside, Donigian, Davis, and Regent Ave Parks, and distribute reusable water bottles to community members.
Air Filter Project: Distribute 1,500 HEPA Air Purifiers to residents with asthma.
Improve Our Bus Stops: improve eight bus stops to include bus shelters, solar powered lighting, and charging stations.
Lead-Free Water Project: provide 2,000 households who have lead-contaminated pipes with an NSF-certified water filter dispenser.
Multi-lingual Cafe: peer-to-peer English-language learning & Spanish-language learning that is specific to terms and phrases unique to Providence and Rhode Island and the common dialects spoken in Central Providence.
Laundry for Schools: install washers and dryers in two schools to provide students with access to clean clothes.
Mi Cocina, Tu Cocina: a mobile nutritional educational trailer to teach young adults how to cook using affordable, often locally-grown, ingredients; classes will be instructed by a chef and participants will receive a meal to eat, and a recipe sheet with ingredients, instructions, and the nutritional value of the meal.
Catching Up On Landscaping Services: provide free landscaping services to those who have been unable to maintain their yards.
Bathrooms & Plants in Our Parks: install two biodegradable toilets at Merino Park, and increase access to existing bathrooms at Donigian and Davis Park; plus, add plants/shrubs to highlight the beauty of the green space, encourage visitation, and to protect the environment.
Neighborhood History Sharing: storytelling events across Central Providence to uncover the stories of those who have lived here and influenced the neighborhood.
Peer Mental Health Training: provide mental health training for high school students to help them detect signs within their peers who may be experiencing mental health issues, as well as provide students and parents with resources and support within the schools to create a connection with their community.
One Stop Shop for Basic Needs: a community pop-up occurring multiple times a week at local recreation centers to provide the public with access to improved showers with free showering supplies, and connections to resources for basic needs.
Pool Access, Lessons, & Lifeguards: extend swimming pool hours, offer free swimming lessons for all ages, and provide lifeguard training for youth.
Clean Up Our Neighborhoods: create a Neighborhood Association that will meet with local government and partners to implement projects such as cleaning and beautifying sidewalks, streets, and parks, as well as organizing community events, installing hanging plants on light poles, and ground-level planters.