Communities across Washington are all working to become more livable for residents of all ages.
And AARP is working across Washington in partnership with local leaders, organizations, and dedicated residents to help make that vision a reality. As part of that effort, AARP is excited to announce the largest number of projects to date through the Community Challenge program. These quick-action grants are being distributed to 244 organizations across all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Community Challenge funds innovative projects that inspire change in transportation, public spaces, housing, diversity and inclusion, civic engagement, coronavirus response, and more.
AARP Washington is incredibly proud to have three grantees right here in our state. Our goal is to support their efforts to create great places for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities, and as local leaders seek to better their communities for the future, this is even more critical.
Washington funded these exciting and diverse projects:
Food is Free Tacoma
The $21,000 grant will be used to build forty “Food Independence Gardens” as part of “The 20% Initiative,” which seeks to have 20% of fruits and vegetables in Tacoma produced locally. The raised-bed gardens will be built at twenty different sites by the end of 2021. Produce from the gardens will be given away for free at the garden sites and local parks across the city.
"The pandemic exposed how fragile our food supply chain is. With that, we are launching the 20% Initiative,” remarked David Thompson, founder of Food for Free Tacoma. “We want to inspire people to grow 20% of the fresh fruits and vegetables that they consume to come from home gardens, Food Independence Gardens, or FIG's for short. We are launching Project FIG to build 20 FIG's with the generous support of AARP."
City of College Place
The $18,350 grant will be used to install free, high-speed community Wi-Fi hotspots at four key areas to connect populations lacking reliable internet access at home.
“The AARP Challenge Grant is allowing the City to install free Wi-Fi at city parks which will expand digital access to all and make the city parks a true playground for all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds,” remarked Mike Rizzitiello, City Administrator for College Place.
Friends of Snohomish Library
The $2,500 grant will be used to The Snohomish Library Story Trail, an installation of 22 story stations -- each holding pages of a picture book -- placed along the Centennial Trail to encourage reading, conversation, reflection, and laughter as families and friends of all ages and abilities read, walk, and play outside.
Expressing appreciation for AARP’s support and recognition of the Story Trail project, Friends of the Library (FOL) president Terry Lippincott said, “FOL exists to expand library access and to spark and foster a love of reading among all segments of our community. Having our vision for this project acknowledged by AARP is gratifying. We can’t wait to see and to join kiddos, parents, and grandparents meandering through the story stations this fall – and far into the future.”
The Community Challenge is part of AARP’s nationwide work on livable communities, which supports neighborhoods, towns, cities, and counties across the country to become great places for all residents. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.
To learn more about the work being funded by the AARP Community Challenge both here in Washington and across the nation, visit aarp.org/CommunityChallenge. You can also view an interactive map of all Community Challenge projects and AARP Washington’s livable communities work at aarp.org/livable.