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AARP is working in partnership with local leaders, organizations and dedicated residents to help make that vision a reality. As part of that effort, AARP is excited to announce the largest investment of grant dollars to date through the Community Challenge grant program. More than $3.6 million in quick-action grants are being distributed to 310 organizations across all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. AARP Minnesota is thrilled to announce that eight organizations right here in our state have been awarded 2023 AARP Community Challenge grants for quick-action projects that will create more livable communities for residents of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
The AARP Community Challenge funds innovative projects that inspire change in areas such as public places; housing; transportation; diversity, equity, and inclusion; digital connections; community resilience; and more.
This year, AARP is also bolstering its investment in rural communities, mobility innovation, transportation options, and health and food access. The program accepted applications across three different grant opportunities, including existing flagship grants in addition to new capacity-building microgrants for improving walkability and community gardens. New demonstration grants will focus on improving transportation systems, with funding support provided by Toyota Motor North America, and housing choice design competitions.
AARP Minnesota is incredibly proud to have eight grantees right here in our state. Our goal is to support their efforts to create great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities. As local leaders seek to better their communities for the future, this becomes even more critical.
Here in Minnesota, these exciting and diverse projects were funded:
The Madison Mercantile for $6,500 – Installing a Digital Literacy Lab in the Madison Mercantile Coffee House and Art Gallery space with free access to computers, printers and videoconferencing software. Staff will be trained and available to help people use the devices.
Community Action Duluth for $7,800 – Creating “social zones” at local farmers markets, hiring an artist to conduct “community visioning” projects, expanding the free produce program and recruiting more volunteers to host social activities at the markets.
Lincoln Park (Duluth) Resource Center for $11,159 – First, installing ramps, benches, accessible pathways and handrails to improve the community garden. Then, promoting, expanding and enhancing opportunities for older residents to participate in programs at the garden.
Cycling Without Age Alexandria for $25,000 – In collaboration with many local organizations, purchasing two trishaw bicycles, training volunteer “pilots” and giving rides to local elders for outdoor fun and social connection.
Point to Place (St. Peter) for $10,700 – Rehabilitating a vacant lot (still empty from the 2003 tornado) with amenities such as seating, lighting, sun shades, a large mural, a stage and a WiFi access point.
Ecolibrium3 (Duluth) for $2,500 – Convening residents to plan and convert a formerly private urban college farm into an age/ability-inclusive, intergenerational space for social connectedness.
Family Service Rochester (and Age-Friendly Olmsted County) for $2,500 – Conducting walking audits with residents on certain Rochester streets and sidewalks to inform pedestrian safety and accessibility improvements.
Lake City Port Authority for $10,000 – educating residents and providing blueprints for Accessory Dwelling Units. The city has previously adopted zoning ordinances to allow for more construction of these additional “tiny houses” on single-family lots that provide more flexible, affordable and appropriate housing for homeowners and renters.
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.
To learn more about the work being funded by the AARP Community Challenge both here in Minnesota as well as across the nation, visit aarp.org/CommunityChallenge. You can also view an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP Minnesota’s livable communities work at aarp.org/livable.