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AARP AARP States South Dakota Livable Communities

South Dakota Communities Invited to Apply for 2024 Community Challenge Grants

group of 10 volunteers from Spearfish, SD, standing near one of the trail signs they placed in a local park
Community volunteers in Spearfish, SD, used a 2022 Community Challenge grant to make trail improvements, including adding wayfinding signage.

AARP South Dakota invites local eligible organizations and governments across the country to apply for the 2024 AARP Community Challenge grant program, now through March 6 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern (4:00 p.m. Central/3:00 p.m. Mountain).

AARP Community Challenge grants fund quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public spaces, transportation, housing, digital connections and more.

Now in its eighth year, the program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for all residents.

“AARP South Dakota is committed to working with local residents, advocates and policymakers to make our communities better places to live for people of all ages,” said Erik Gaikowski, AARP South Dakota State Director. “The Community Challenge program has proven that quick-action projects can lead to long-term change, especially for South Dakotans 50 and over.”

The AARP Community Challenge program is accepting applications across three different grant opportunities. All projects must be consistent with AARP’s mission to serve the needs of people 50 and older, along with other eligibility criteria.

  • Capacity-building microgrants are paired with additional resources, such as one-on-one coaching, webinars, cohort learning opportunities and more for improving walkability, bikeability and implementing safe, accessible home modifications.
  • Demonstration grants focus on improving digital connections to prepare and respond to disasters, reconnecting communities divided by infrastructure and housing choice design competitions.
  • Flagship grants support projects that improve public places; transportation; housing; diversity, equity and inclusion; civic engagement; community health and economic empowerment. New focus areas added this year include community resilience and digital connections.

“AARP is committed to meeting the needs of a rapidly aging population in communities across the country,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “The Community Challenge aims to be a catalyst for action in cities, towns and rural areas through quick-action community improvements that benefit people of all ages and abilities.”
Since 2017, AARP has awarded more than $16.4 million to over 1,370 projects by nonprofit organizations and government entities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – including more than $280,000 to 27 South Dakota communities. The program provides direct support to all community types, including rural, suburban and urban communities with a special focus on the needs of those 50 and older.

AARP South Dakota works in collaboration with communities across the state, bringing people together and providing resources and expertise to help make South Dakota an even better place to live for people of all ages. Past community challenge grants across the state have supported safe walking and biking trails, park improvement projects, community gardens and more. In November 2023, the state office also awarded winter placemaking grants to seven communities for projects specifically designed to enhance public spaces during winter months.

The Community Challenge is open to eligible nonprofit organizations 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 tens of thousands for larger projects.

The application deadline is 5:00 p.m. Eastern, March 6, 2024 (4:00 p.m. Central/3:00 p.m. Mountain). All projects must be completed by December 15, 2024.

To apply and view past grantees, visit

Watch our state director, Erik Gaikowski, talk about the grants on KELOLAND Living.