The goal of the grant is to create an online, open-source, digital budget debate platform and curriculum designed for middle and high school students to explore civic challenges and priorities.
Open Austin contributors partnered with the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, publisher of the Austin Monitor, to apply for this $15,000 award to improve the budget app, develop a teaching curriculum, and implement the program in 10 pilots schools in Austin.
The grant project builds on two existing initiatives:
Austin Budget Party is an open-source, mobile friendly, web app designed to engage the citizens of Austin over how city budgets are developed. Open Austin led the design and creation of this project through volunteer Civic Hack Nights.
Monitor in the Classroom offers local educators access to Austin Monitor content to create curriculum around current events and the practice of journalism. It is currently funded by Google Fiber’s Austin branch.
The project will start as an educational pilot curriculum including participation from 10 different classrooms from each council district through a grant from the Mozilla Foundation. Each classroom will use austinbudget.party to craft a budget that meets the needs of their immediate community, elect a mock City Council representative from their peers, and learn about debate and formal proceedings. Then, the ten mock Council Members will create a digital quorum and run a meeting to be hosted over a gigabit powered video conferencing solution.
The result of this will be a finalized budget that the students would present to the Austin City Council during the formal period of citizen feedback on the proposal annual budget. Conditional upon the success of this pilot, the end product would be a robust curriculum and platform that could scale so that hundreds of students would simultaneously collaborate and learn from their peers all over the City breaking down the barriers of economic segregation.
Using mobile technology solutions and high-speed internet connections, we aim to facilitate a realistic educational simulation where students learn by doing through mobile devices that meet them where they are in the digital world. Our team believes this type of learning experience can transform what has traditionally been possible in a classroom environment.