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AARP Maryland Announces Grant Opportunity for Quick-Action Community Improvement Projects

Applications are currently being accepted through Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 8:00 p.m. ET.

We know that 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 for all. We are excited to announce the program is back in 2021 for its fifth year and is currently accepting applications online through April 14, 8:00 p.m. ET.

The AARP Community Challenge’s focus on tangible projects, community engagement and its “quick action” timeline helps selected grantees fast-track their ideas and replicate promising practices. Some 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. Other types of organizations are considered on a case-by-case basis. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands for larger projects.

AARP will prioritize projects that deliver inclusive solutions that meet the needs of diverse populations, as well as those that directly engage volunteers through permanent or temporary solutions that aim to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Creating vibrant public places and improving open spaces, parks and access to other amenities;
  • Delivering a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements;
  • Supporting a range of housing options that increase the availability of accessible and affordable choices;
  • Increasing civic engagement and demonstrating the tangible value of “Smart Cities” with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion;
  • Supporting local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic with an emphasis on economic development, improvements to public spaces, and transportation services;
  • Ensuring a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community; and
  • Other innovative projects to improve the community. In addition to these areas of focus, AARP wants to hear about local needs and innovative ideas for addressing them.

We are thrilled to bring this grant opportunity back to Maryland in 2021 and we encourage all eligible organizations to apply,” said AARP Maryland State President Jim Campbell. “We’ve seen great results from the AARP Community Challenge grant program supporting communities across the state as they make tangible improvements that spark long-term change.”
Since 2017, the Community Challenge has funded 560 projects nationwide. Among the projects funded in Maryland in 2020:

  • University of Maryland (Hyattsville): The Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health Laboratory (CEEJH Lab) at the University of Maryland School of Public Health used their 2020 grant to transform their My Block Counts app (a pilot program aimed to use environmental justice and urban planning as backdrops for increasing scientific and environmental health literacy in older adults of color from the Southern/Capital region of Maryland), to include integration with local municipal 3-1-1 services so that residents can report gaps in community resources to their local policymakers. Participants learned how to report on conditions through social media posts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok), and online social communities (e.g., sub-Reddits and other forums, Meet-Ups, Facebook Groups). The CEEJH lab's goal is to increase the digital literacy of older adults.
  • Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation (Baltimore): Bon Secours Community Works (Bon Secours) received a grant to make significant improvements to the Rachael Wilson Memorial Park in southwest Baltimore’s Boyd-Booth neighborhood. The park will become a lively central site as well as a space for reflection for people of every age, which will promote an enhanced quality of life and bring positive activity to the neighborhood where a derelict vacant lot once stood. Current and potential residents, and potential investors, will see exciting and unique assets in the Boyd-Booth neighborhood because of this skillfully designed and maintained public space.            
  • Washington County Commission on Aging (Hagerstown): The Washington County Commission on Aging put grant funds toward the purchase of a vehicle and trailer to provide critical healthcare and nutrition services to older adults throughout the rural county.

The 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 safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.

The application deadline for the 2021 grant cycle is April 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET. All projects must be completed by November 10, 2021.

To submit an application and learn more about the work being funded by the Community Challenge both here in Maryland as well as across the nation, visit You can also view an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP Maryland’s livable communities work at

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