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 nationwide. We are excited to announce the program is back in 2022 for its sixth year and is currently accepting applications online through March 22, 5:00 p.m. ET.
The AARP Community Challenge’s focus on tangible projects, community engagement and its quick-action timeline helps selected grantees fast-track ideas and replicate promising practices. 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.
This year, in response to once-in-a-generation investments from the federal government in local communities through laws like the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, AARP is also funding projects that support communities’ efforts to strengthen engagement in the local implementation of these programs and help build onto investments already underway using these funding streams.
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 support residents age 50 and over, are inclusive, address disparities, directly engage volunteers and aim to achieve one or more of the following outcomes (with a focus on people and 50 and older):
- Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.
- Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
- Support a range of housing options that increase the availability of accessible and affordable options.
- Ensure a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
- Support communities’ efforts to build engagement and leverage funding available under new federal programs through laws like the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and more.
- Increase civic engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
- Other community improvements including health services, community development, and coronavirus pandemic recovery.
“We are thrilled to bring this grant opportunity back to South Dakota in 2022 and we encourage all eligible organizations to apply,” said Erik Gaikowski, State Director of AARP South Dakota. “We’ve seen great results from the AARP Community Challenge grant program supporting communities across South Dakota as they make tangible improvements that spark long-term change.”
Since 2017, the Community Challenge has funded over 800 projects nationwide, including 18 right here in South Dakota. Last year, the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation used their grant to fund a farmer’s market with special shopping sessions (called "Elders Hours") and other age-friendly activities to increase access to and encourage the use of locally grown food by older residents.
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 residents of all ages, (especially people age 50 and older) safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities to participate in community life
The application deadline for the 2022 grant cycle is March 22, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. ET. All projects must be completed by November 30, 2022.
To submit an application and learn more about the work being funded by the Community Challenge both here in South Dakota, as well as across the nation, visit aarp.org/CommunityChallenge.