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News Release —
County to Allocate Participatory Budgeting Funds

$2.5 million in grants is to be awarded to advance racial equity in Marin.
Three women sit at a table during an informational session on participatory budgeting.
 February 1, 2024

Body of News Release

San Rafael, CA – Through an innovative pilot program, 24 projects that advance racial equity and make meaningful change in Marin County neighborhoods were eligible to receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $250,000. Community members across Marin County voted for their favorite projects and helped determine which grant applicants would receive a portion of the $2.5 million in federal money as part of the County’s participatory budgeting program.

On February 6, the winning projects will be formally announced during the Marin County Board of Supervisors meeting. The session is to begin no earlier than 2 PM in the Civic Center’s Board chamber (Suite 330, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael). The meeting will be livestreamed on the County website as well.

The Office of Equity launched Marin County’s first-ever participatory budgeting initiative to invest resources in community-driven solutions to address local needs. Participatory budgeting, a form of direct democracy in which community members decide how to spend a portion of the public budget, has been used and studied in cities across the United States and around the world. 

Projects on the ballot included youth leadership programs, emergency preparedness trainings, reentry employment services for justice-involved individuals, and programs to promote Spanish literacy, among many others. Community members over the age of 14 who live, work or attend school in Marin County were eligible to vote for their favorite projects. 

Voter outreach and engagement took place at schools, libraries, and food pantries, as well as through social media, radio and online platforms. The online and in-person voting period took place from October through December 2023, and nearly 3,700 responses revealed the most popular project proposals. The results of the voting process, as well the next steps for implementation, are highlighted in the meeting’s staff report

The Board of Supervisors has cited racial equity and addressing racial disparities as top priorities. The Office of Equity’s mission is to establish the County as an anti-racist, multicultural workforce committed to accountability, transformational change, and community engagement. County Equity Director Jamillah Jordan described the local participatory budgeting process as “an opportunity to give people real power over real public money.” The goals, she said, are to boost civic participation, demystify government, and address local needs by uplifting and building power within underserved communities.

Marin’s participatory budgeting program launched in 2022 when the brainstorming and idea-sharing got underway in Phase 1. During Phase 2, ideas were developed into feasible and equity-centered proposals and more than 100 grant applications were submitted and reviewed by a committee that included community members. Phase 3 involved the development of a community engagement strategy, a community ballot and subsequent tally of recommended allocations. Following the allocation of funds (Phase 4), the fifth and final phase will focus on project implementation and the tracking and monitoring of progress by the grant recipients.

Grant applications focused on projects to benefit neighborhoods that scored below 70 on the Healthy Places Index (HPI) or have significant racial disparities. This includes the historically underserved communities within the Canal area of San Rafael, Marin City, West Marin, and Novato. HPI is a data tool aimed at advancing health equity across California by evaluating 23 key drivers of health and life expectancy.

The Office of Equity plans to create an online, interactive map of grant-awarded projects for the public to view the implementation progress and the positive impacts to local communities.  Learn more about the Marin program at

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For disability accommodations, please phone (415) 473-7586 (voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail the Office of Equity in advance of the event. The County will do its best to fulfill requests. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.

Page updated February 1, 2024