Today, AARP announced the awardees for its 2019 AARP Community Challenge grant program, including three recipients right here in Oklahoma. A total of nearly $1.6 million will be distributed to fund 159 “quick action” projects across the country, helping communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term progress to support residents of all ages. Nearly 1,700 applications were received from non-profits and government entities for the program, now in its third year. Each of the projects, which must be completed by November 4, is designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:
- Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.
- Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by engaging residents and policymakers in accessing, understanding and using data to increase quality of life for all.
- Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
- Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.
Oklahoma grantees include:
- The City of McAlester: will receive funding to transform an underutilized parking lot to a new park space in downtown McAlester. Funding will include purchase and installation of flexible and adaptable ADA-accessible tables and seating options, ADA-accessible water fountains with pet features and bike racks to encourage healthy transportation
- The City of Elk City: will receive funding to provide the addition of nine table gardens and three six-foot benches to community's existing community food garden, which allow for more comfortable opportunity for gardeners unable to stand for long periods of time or head-on gardening access for individuals in seated positions.
- The Delaware Nation: will receive funding for the components and installation of a community garden in Anadarko. The garden will feature 25 handicap-accessible raised beds and will provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as opportunities for healthy lifestyle education events.
“The City of McAlester, the City of Elk City and the Delaware Nation will be transforming outdoor community spaces to be enjoyed by residents of all ages and life stages,” said Joe Ann Vermillion, AARP Oklahoma state president. “We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life. These projects are indicative of the work AARP supports across our state.”
The full list of grantees can be found at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge.
“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 all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”
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. As part of this, AARP staff and volunteers are working across the country, engaging and mobilizing residents, delivering technical assistance and expertise to local leaders and organizations, and supporting the work of the 381 communities and four states that have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.