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South Valley MainStreet Earns AARP Community Challenge Grant

Project Among 129 Grantees Across the County


AARP announced Wednesday the awardees for its 2018 AARP Community Challenge grant program, which includes a recipient right here in New Mexico – Albuquerque's South Valley MainStreet.

The South Valley Mainstreet focuses on creating community based economic development and revitalization while preserving the South Valley and its traditions.

"We are honored, grateful, and excited that AARP is investing in the South Valley community, its people, traditions, culture and history, all with the goal of community and economic revitalization to build healthy communities," said Bianca Encinias, South Valley MainStreet Executive Director.

The South Valley MainStreet will use its funding toward a two-fold purpose. First it will create a walking tour entitled “Because it’s Home: Stories of the South Valley” and secondly, create a neighborhood gathering space at La Familia Growers Market at the Dolores Huerta Gateway Park. The project includes constructing an horno at the site and conducting a class on creating chile ristras while also adding some cafe lighting, tables and chairs and other amenities so people will have a place to gather and during the market and other events.

Encinias said one of the goals of the project is to create an intergenerational atmosphere where the seniors can teach the younger generation about the culture and traditions of the Valley – that’s where constructing the horno comes in so people can learn the traditions surrounding baking bread as well as the ristra classes.

AARP New Mexico State Director Gene Varela said, “What really captured our attention with this project was that it makes physical improvements to the neighborhood in order to build up that sense of community, of belonging, and at the same time honors the South Valley’s past and traditions. It’s really what New Mexico is all about – combining the new but still honoring our culture and rich past.”

AARP will distribute a total of $1.3 million to fund 129 “quick action” projects across the country, helping communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term progress to support residents of all ages. Nearly 1,600 applications were received from non-profits and government entities for the program, now in its second year. Each of the projects, which must be completed by November 5, is designed to achieve on one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, and/or access to public and private transit.
  • Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.
  • Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.
  • Address other issues of importance for communities.

The full list of grantees can be found at

“AARP has teams on the ground in communities across the country who hear from mayors, community leaders and local residents about the value of getting quick wins to create long-term change. We developed the Community Challenge Grant Program to answer that call and help build momentum for more livable communities nationwide,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President, Community, State and National Affairs. “This year, we are proud to fund more projects in more communities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.”

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative that helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. AARP staff and volunteers are working with roughly 300 communities across the country, engaging and mobilizing community residents, delivering technical assistance and expertise to local leaders and organizations, and supporting the work of the 275 communities and two states that have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities.  AARP also provides resources and publications to encourage local action such as the Roadmap to Livability and the AARP book-series Where We Live: Communities for All Ages.

To learn more about AARP’s livable communities work in communities across the country and the AARP Community Challenge please visit


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