The new program is designed to give decision-making power on how money is spent on public spending projects to residents in an equitable and inclusive way.
Charlotte, N.C. – Amplify Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in community outreach planning and community engagement initiatives, in partnership with VettDeck, a full-service marketing agency, won a 10-month contract with Mecklenburg County to implement its Pilot Participatory Budgeting Program (PB). This program will put real decision-making power into the hands of county residents who will direct which community projects are funded in the upcoming budget. PB is a process that allows community members to identify, discuss, and prioritize public spending projects.
The implementation of Participatory Budgeting in Mecklenburg County comes on the heels of Mecklenburg County’s FY22 Budget Engagement Strategy, which incorporated district-wide listening sessions and an intentional focus on equity. The aim is to create a wave of community-led innovation in the region — Greensboro and Durham already have PB programs operating successfully. Here is how it will work in Mecklenburg County:
- PB Mecklenburg is now recruiting volunteers and ambassadors for our Pilot Program, which begins January 2022. Volunteer teams will help identify projects for their community.
- The public will have the opportunity to vote on the approved projects for each County Commission District.
- Selected projects will be considered for funding in the upcoming County budget to be approved in June 2022.
Christine Edwards, principal at Amplify Consulting, will serve as the program’s project coordinator; she will develop the community engagement strategy and facilitate project goals. Edwards’ professional background, strong local presence, and previous experience working with Mecklenburg County make her adeptly qualified and well suited to lead the implementation of this initiative.
“We hope to build awareness, bring a diversity of voices to the conversation, collect meaningful input, and show people the true impact of their participation,” says Edwards.
Enovia Bedford, founder at VettDeck, is a marketing, sponsorship, and business development expert. Bedford and her team will create a wide-reaching communications strategy via traditional marketing methods and innovative efforts such as community ambassadorship, influencer style outreach, and social media engagement.
“I believe that we can put forth great effort to market the Participatory Budget Program in Mecklenburg County,” says Bedford. “I’m looking forward to working in each district, creating new relationships among citizens, helping identify the needs of the community, making sure the teams are diverse, and working towards a better Mecklenburg County.”
To ensure a well-rounded approach, Edwards and Bedford have also engaged Charlotte-based Wily, a design thinking agency, to assist with their efforts. Wily will help in the community input, idea generation, and decision-making process.
“At Wily, we are committed to helping teams and communities collaborate to create solutions that deliver impact,” explains Eric Gorman, owner at Wily. “We are inspired by this opportunity to ensure citizens’ voices and ideas are part of the County’s budgeting process.”
The PB team is currently seeking Mecklenburg County residents who are interested in serving as ambassadors or becoming part of the volunteer teams. The goal is to get as much buy-in and engagement from the community as possible. So often, the way the government makes decisions about how tax dollars are spent can be confusing. With Participatory Budgeting, there is more transparency and opportunities for involvement. This program is about getting everybody a seat at the table and having their voices heard. To learn more about getting involved, visit https://www.mecknc.gov/CountyManagersOffice/OMB/PB/Pages/Home.aspx.
For media inquiries and interview requests with Christine Edwards and Enovia Bedford, contact Jameka Whitten at email@example.com or 704.965.3297. For additional information about Mecklenburg’s Participatory Budgeting Program, visit https://www.mecknc.gov/CountyManagersOffice/OMB/PB/Pages/Home.aspx.
About Amplify Consulting
Established in 2018, Amplify Consulting is a minority-owned consulting firm located in Charlotte, NC. The firm consists of professionals experienced in multiple disciplines, including community outreach planning, community development, communication, and local government policy. They work with governments and nonprofits to enhance their community engagement capacity and increase awareness of special projects by hosting public meetings and workshops, specifically for capital projects and community developments. www.amplifycharlotte.com
VettDeck is a full-service marketing agency led by tech founder Enovia Bedford. Enovia thrives in startup and early-stage environments, working to drive profitable growth by coordinating clients with industry-leading companies, partners, and sponsors. Her experience encompasses diverse industries with a unique talent for marketing, public relations, social media, branding, event planning, and relationship building. Enovia prides herself on developing and implementing engaging and impactful influencer programs, workshops, and campaigns. www.vettdeck.com
Wily helps teams from nonprofits, governments, communities, Fortune 500 companies, and start-ups work collaboratively to tackle challenges and accelerate their impact on the world. Their facilitators are innovation sherpas that guide teams through battle-tested workshops using proven tools and practices. They also train teams on how to apply these methods within their organizations. They’re experts in delivering engaging experiences that prioritize results over endless meetings. For both in-person and virtual workshops, Mecklenburg County will have access to best-in-class collaboration platforms (Miro and MURAL), which house their templates for Design and Decision Sprints, as well as their custom-designed workshops. www.wearewily.com
Header Photo: Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.