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Three New Mexico Organizations Earn AARP Community Challenge Grants

AARP has announced that three New Mexico organizations are recipients of a 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant. Two of the grantees are in Las Cruces, the South Central Regional Transit District and the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership, while the third grantee, the Embudo Valley Library and Community Center, is in Dixon.

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The projects are as follows:

The South Central Regional Transit District, Las Cruces -- this project will add benches, covers and lighting to the area's bus stops to encourage residents to take advantage of public transportation.

Downtown Las Cruces Partnership, Las Cruces, -- To improve the quality of life for residents, this grant will provide safe bicycle storage and shade structures in the Arts and Cultural District.

Embudo Valley Library and Community Center, Dixon -- This grant will activate a park area on the grounds of a public library by installing two picnic tables and benches that will be created by community members.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with New Mexico’s grantees as they work to make immediate improvements in their communities, encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,”  said Joseph P. Sanchez, AARP New Mexico State Director. “Our goal at AARP New Mexico is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities and the Coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the importance of this work.”

David Armijo, South Central Regional Transit District, said, “These funds will allow us to build shelters and benches around our public transit sites that will serve all our passengers, but also protect the most vulnerable of our populations, including our seniors and people with disabilities. This is a much needed amenity as they travel through our community.”

Jennifer Garcia Kozlowski, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership Executive Director, said, “As an up and coming downtown, and arts and cultural district, receiving this grant shows us we are on the right track. Downtown Las Cruces wants to be a hub of community activity. It’s truly an honor to be chosen among many worthy projects. Being able to create space for people of all walks of life and ages is paramount to our success.”

Felicity Fonseca, Embudo Valley Library and Community Center Executive Director, said, "Embudo Valley Library is thrilled to make public seating improvements to our nascent outdoor park space with support and funding from AARP.  We are also thankful that we will be contracting directly with local artisans, thereby stimulating our local economy during COVID-19.  We are planning ahead for a time when we can all gather again"  

The 2020 Community Challenge grants are the largest number of grantees to date with more than $2.4 million awarded among 184 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement “quick-action” projects to create more livable communities across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

All projects should be completed by Dec. 18, 2020, and are designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets.
  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices.
  • Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions.
  • Increase civic engagement and demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by bringing together local leaders and residents from all backgrounds to address challenges.
  • Support coronavirus response and recovery efforts by ensuring older adults’ access to information, essential services, and civic life.

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge and view an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP New Mexico’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.

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