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AARP AARP States Iowa Livable Communities

Grant Opportunity for Quick-Action Community Improvement Projects

We know it takes time to build great communities. But we also believe that tangible improvements can spark long-term change. AARP launched the Community Challenge in 2017 to fund projects that build momentum to improve livability nationwide. We are excited to announce the program is back in 2023 for its seventh year and is currently accepting applications online through March 15, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. CT.

The AARP Community Challenge’s focus on tangible projects, community engagement and its quick-action timeline help selected grantees fast-track ideas and replicate promising practices. Previous projects have demonstrated an ability to garner additional funds or support from public and private funders, encourage innovation, overcome local policy barriers and receive greater overall awareness and engagement.

The grant program is open to 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits and government entities. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands for larger projects. In 2023, the AARP Community Challenge is accepting applications across three different grant opportunities, two of which are new this year. 

This is AARP’s traditional, flagship Community Challenge grant program where grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. These grants will support projects that improve public places; transportation; housing; diversity, equity and inclusion; digital connections; community resilience; civic engagement; and community health and economic empowerment.

These $2,500 grants are combined with additional valuable resources, such as webinars, cohort learning opportunities, up to two hours of one-on-one coaching from America Walks or 880 Cities, and AARP publications. This new grant opportunity will accept applications for projects that support Walkability using the AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit and Community Gardens using the AARP publication Creating Community Gardens for All Ages.

Supporting demonstration efforts that encourage replication of promising local efforts, this new grant opportunity will accept applications for projects that build capacity towards transportation systems change and accessory dwelling unit (ADU) design competitions.

Since 2017, the AARP Community Challenge has funded over 1,060 projects nationwide. Last year, Iowa awarded these exciting and diverse projects:

  • Tama/Toledo Healthy Hometown Committee – This grant will support the installation of crosswalks and additional sidewalk sections at a key intersection connecting Tama and Toledo, enhancing pedestrian/biker safety and improving access to vital services and recreation opportunities in the area. 
  • Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (Perry) – ADA-compliant benches will be installed at city bus stops in Perry, along with improved signage (including bilingual signs at designated stops) and a deviated flex bus route. Free rides will be available for community members who need transportation assistance to healthcare and other essential services.
  • Aging Resources of Central Iowa – This Ride Share transportation program allows older adults who cannot drive and who do not have access to a smart phone to order free rides through a telephone call center, increasing independence and reducing isolation.
  • City of Greeley – Decorative light poles will be installed along State Highway 38 as part of Greeley’s larger vision to create a vibrant downtown corridor area for residents and visitors to gather and enjoy.

The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties across the country to become great places to live for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide residents of all ages, (especially people 50 and older) with safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities to participate in community life.

The application deadline for the 2023 grant cycle is March 15, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. ET. All projects must be completed by November 30, 2023.

To submit an application and learn more about the work being funded by the AARP Community Challenge both here in Iowa, as well as across the nation, visit

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