We know that it takes time to build great communities. But, we also believe that quick action can spark longer-term progress. AARP launched the AARP Community Challenge in 2017 to fund projects that build momentum for change in communities to improve livability for all local residents.
The Community Challenge is open to 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits and government entities. Other types of organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand for larger projects.
The program will accept applications for projects in the following categories for 2020:
· *New in 2020* Increase civic engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of community inclusion and diversity;
· Create vibrant public places through permanent or temporary solutions that activate open spaces, improve parks and enhance access to amenities;
· Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options through permanent or temporary solutions that increase walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements;
· Support the availability of a range of housing through permanent or temporary solutions that increase accessible and affordable housing options;
· Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by developing and implementing innovative programs that engage residents in accessing, understanding and using data and participating in decision-making to increase quality of life for all; and
· Other innovative projects to improve the community.
- Coronavirus projects are eligible for consideration. Here are some examples of projects:
Access to Food and Necessities
-Expanding access to fresh food through farmers’ markets or, via pre-order/tech solutions, grab-and-go options, and/or new home delivery programs.
-Building and stocking items like little free libraries or pop up pantries with books, supplies, etc.
-Starting programs for older residents to order (and pay for) groceries from a local grocery store or fill prescriptions which are picked up by volunteers.
-Piloting innovative community solutions to share in arts and culture while social distancing, e.g. pop-up drive-in-movies or other art/performance events.
-Developing innovative techniques to engage people in assessing the pedestrian safety of their communities, and collecting input to shape community response as a part of economic recovery efforts.
-Implementing friendly voice caller programs that virtually engage volunteers to call residents who are isolated.
-Launching intergenerational programs to socially connect with other people Hosting virtual senior academies to connect seniors with information and learning opportunities.
Access to Connectivity, Services and Economic Activities
-Creating new bike match programs that connect people in need of low-cost transportation solutions with available, underused bicycles.
-Expanding Wi-Fi access through mobile hotspot programs, or hotspot loan programs, to help close the digital divide during this time.
-Offering new programs to foster local economic assets (e.g. activating makers’ spaces in homes, how-to programs on entrepreneurship, repurposing of existing commercial space to adapt to new needs/modes).
“Local organizations and volunteers are making a profound impact on their communities,” Sarah Waddle, state director for AARP Indiana, said. “Hoosiers from all over this state are making a difference for people of all ages, and the Community Challenge gives AARP the opportunity to provide our neighbors and community members support."
In 2019, the AARP Community Challenge funded 159 projects nationwide, including right here in Indiana where one grant was awarded. Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center, located in Fort Wayne, received a $30,000 grant to renovate public spaces in the Mount Vernon Park Neighborhood.
The application deadline for 2020 AARP Community Challenge grants is Friday, May 15, 2020, 11:59 p.m. ET. All projects must be completed by Monday, November 9, 2020.
For more information or to apply, visit AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.