Introducing Backyard Budget

The Challenge

NPP is participating in the Knight News Challenge, seeking funding for the mobile piece of our new Backyard Budget project. Please help us strengthen our proposal by reading it and telling us what you think; you can do this on the News Challenge website.

What is Backyard Budget all about? Recent polls tell us that folks are confused about the local and state impact of federal spending and revenue decisions. To most people, the federal budget is invisible, corrupt, and impenetrable. Yet new studies – and NPP’s own experience – prove that if we put enough relevant and accessible budget data into the hands of a broad public, they will absorb it and reach useful and nuanced conclusions.

A Little History

In 1983 four friends were working together in Springfield, Massachusetts, a small post-industrial city resuscitated – in part – by an infusion of federal capital beginning in the late 1970s. By the early ‘80s, budgets tightened and community-based programs began closing. The friends traced the cause to the federal level.

NPP Founders

The friends piled in a car, drove to the University of Massachusetts and poured over dusty budget tomes. They crunched the numbers and found that over a two-year period, Springfield and the surrounding area received $53 million fewer federal dollars for social, employment, housing and educational programs.

Astonished, they took their findings to the media and to Congressman Silvio Conte, a ranking member of a House Appropriations Committee. Conte dismissed them as lunatics but soon sent his own analysts to re-trace their steps. Upon hearing that the work withstood review, Conte became a vocal advocate for budget priorities that reflected the will of his constituents.

Strengthened by the power of information, the friends formed National Priorities Project (NPP). And NPP has been cracking open the federal budget ever since.

Back to 2012

We've come a long way from mimeograph machines and bound paper budgets. We’re able to bring the data of our democracy right into your backyard. We can help you compare your information to that of your neighbors, see it over time, and visualize it for maximum impact.

We're able to help you grasp the federal budgeting process, intervene at key moments, connect to Congress and broadcast your personal budgeting priorities – whatever they may be – through new and traditional media.

Help us open the next doorway. We’re launching Backyard Budget, a new suite of online tools, including data visualizations and a mobile component, that makes understanding the federal budget easier than ever. We’re asking the Knight Foundation to fund the mobile piece of Backyard Budget, and they want to hear what you think. Please visit their site to read our proposal and leave your feedback.

If you’re not already receiving NPP’s updates, sign up now. When we launch Backyard Budget, we’re going to give it directly to folks like you, because an open and participatory federal budget process is crucial for a healthy democracy.