Ajah Johnson didn't believe she and her peers would be able to choose how to spend $10,000 to upgrade their school -- but it turned out to be true. Her class at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island learned budgeting, survey techniques, and proposal design in a semester-long credit course, and then chose the winning idea in a school-wide vote. While Johnson's project to improve uncomfortable furniture in the library came in second, $3,000 was left over from the winning project -- a facelift for the cafeteria -- to revamped the library. Now 'participatory budgeting' is giving more stakeholders a say in how public funds are spent. The Rhode Island Department of Health is allowing communities in Central Falls and nearby Providence and Pawtucket to vote on how to spend nearly $1.4 million to reduce health care disparities.

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