Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (WA)

Participatory Planning and Budgeting (PPB) is a process that puts decision-making control directly in the hands of the community most impacted by the issues being addressed. For this project, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) partnered with Tacoma Public Schools to implement PPB at an elementary, middle, and high school in the Eastside neighborhood of Tacoma. Students at each school formed advisory groups, collected ideas from their classmates, developed proposals, and voted on which of their ideas to fund. In addition to the selected interventions coming directly from the community and their priorities, benefits of the process include increased social connections among students and increased likelihood of continued civic engagement.

  • PPB empowered the community most impacted by the issues being addressed – in this case students -- leading to the project’s successful completion and implementation at all three schools.
  • PPB is financially sustainable. The project will continue to run without PHNCI funding for at least another year or two, and hopefully will become part of sustained TPCHD work for many years to come.
  • PPB is expanding and will be rolled out in additional school districts (such as White River School District). It will also be continued into year two at three new schools, and for an additional year at the same high school that participated in the year one project.
  • The program can be widely disseminated for use in other kinds of programs and organizations, such as physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco, as well as disseminated to partner organizations such as MetroParks Tacoma, and to governmental sister agencies such as the City of Tacoma.
  • Staff capacity to provide sufficient support to process implementation of PPB was a challenge.
  • Delays occurred when contracting issues with the school district caused the implementation timeline to be pushed back several months. As a result of the implementation delays, the post-project evaluation was also delayed.
  • Students and teachers lacked the tools needed to effectively implement communications updates beyond the school student body.
  • Interest in the project from other schools was high – so high in fact that we lacked the capacity to support it.
  • Funding of the project was insufficient; as a result we were not able to directly disseminate the process as widely as we would have liked.

Identify staff and partners who can be early adopters. Provide staff and partners with capacity and skill-building (through training, etc.) to be able to execute this kind of process. Create process improvements within your organization (financial, etc.) that allow this kind of process to run smoothly, such as flexibility around sole-source thresholds, small community contracting processes, and more. Identify projects or pots of money that could be used to pilot and implement PPB for your organization. Share results, lessons learned, and more to disseminate the practice within your organization as well as to partners and the community beyond.

  • Innovation Summary Document
  • Case Study Report