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2019 AARP Community Challenge Awardees

Community Challenge

Communities across Illinois are working each and every day to become more livable for residents of all ages.

In support of that work, AARP is excited to be able to provide funding to organizations through the AARP Community Challenge, now in its third year. These “quick action” grants are being distributed to 159 organizations, with at least one in every state, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including right here in Illinois.

The Community Challenge grants fund innovative projects that can inspire change in areas such as transportation, open spaces, housing, smart cities and more.

The Community Challenge is part of AARP’s nationwide work on livable communities, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties across the country to become great places for all residents. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.

After funding 217 projects between 2017 and 2018, AARP has increased its investment to nearly $1.6 million for 159 projects this year. Here in Illinois, we are excited about the work that the Community Challenge Grants are supporting this year.

In Chicago, grantees include:

· DevCorp North dba Rogers Park Business Alliance, 7036 N. Clark St., which received a $7,500 grant to purchase, re-locate and install a small public plaza or “People Spot” in a high pedestrian traffic area of the Clark Street commercial corridor. The People Spot will be a small, stand-alone public plaza built out from the sidewalk into a city parking space and will include benches, plantings and other beautification elements.

· The Recyclery Collective, 7628 N. Paulina St., which received a $3,500 grant to collaborate with local artists to create Art Potholes to repair streets in Chicago. The organization will work with community members to make mosaics and then install the mosaics as functional art, filling in potholes while making roads more rideable.

· Elevate Energy, 322 S. Green St., which received a $22,600 grant to address the city’s affordable housing crisis by helping low-income senior homeowners make comprehensive renovations to their two-unit buildings. The renovations will include making accessibility upgrades, addressing maintenance issues that have been deferred (thus making the units unavailable for rent) and completing energy efficiency upgrades. The project will allow senior homeowners to age in place and return rental units back to the market.

“AARP Illinois commends these Chicago organizations for thinking creatively and proposing solutions that will make it more possible for older adults to stay in the communities where they want to age,” said Rosanna Marquez, Volunteer State President for AARP Illinois which has 1.7 million members.

To learn more about the work being funded by the AARP Community Challenge both here in Illinois as well as across the nation, visit And to learn more about how AARP is working to make communities across Illinois and across the U.S. more livable for all residents, visit

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