Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access


Dr. Melissa Nemon & Dr. Audrey Falk


Young people's potential for meaningful participation in school has yet to be fully realized. They are constrained to low levels of involvement and remain, for the most part, controlled in most decision-making environments. Youth engagement models all strive to engage youth fully, but only some do. A School Participatory Budgeting (SPB) class at a New England High School offers a model for actualizing youth engagement at a critical level. Through SPB, youth demonstrate six dimensions of critical youth empowerment (1) a welcoming environment, (2) meaningful participation, (3) equitable power-sharing between youth and adults, (4) engagement in critical reflection on interpersonal and sociopolitical processes, (5) participation to affect change, and (6) integrated individual- and community-level empowerment. This study conducted an evaluation of secondary data made available from the SPB program in order to assess youth empowerment. Findings determined that youth involved in SPB demonstrate improvements in civic knowledge, participatory competencies, and have improved perceptions of individual and community-level empowerment. The findings make a case for critical youth empowerment through SPB.