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AARP AARP States Wisconsin Livable Communities

Grants Awarded to Projects in Platteville & Milwaukee

Main Street Panorama
A wide view of a small town downtown area on a sunny day.

Local projects in two Wisconsin communities – Platteville and Milwaukee – have been selected to receive our “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grants, which are being awarded monthly this year to projects around the state that are designed to improve communities and make them better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age.

Judges selected the projects for $1,000 grants after receiving more than five dozen proposals from communities across Wisconsin. These projets – the judges decided – were the best fits for the criteria for the grants. Our State Director Sam Wilson agreed with the judges, saying both projects fit the spirit and intent of the grant program. “Our goal is to support communities as they make positive changes that inspire long-term progress on livable issues. These projects in Platteville and Milwaukee hit that nail right on the head.”

Here are a few details about both projects:

PLATTEVILLE – The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums/City of Platteville Museum Department was awarded a grant to help fund a project that will expand, beautify and make the Gail E. & Wes E. Kopp Memorial Pollinator Garden available in all seasons for the community to enjoy. The judging panel said the project not only gives youth and seniors a place to be outside, but it helps the threatened populations of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

According to its application, The museum would like to honor long time volunteers Gail and Wes Kopp while also supporting pollinators and providing a beautiful, all-season garden for the community to enjoy. Wes passed in early April. He and Gail were instrumental in bringing the museum to Platteville, and Wes restored many items that are on display at the museum, including the museum’s wood floors.

The museum would like to honor the Kopps and their contributions by creating and naming the pollinator garden after them. Funding from AARP along with memorial donations will extend that garden along Virgin Avenue and fund educational signage that explains the importance of pollinators and provides information about pollinators and the native plants included in the gardens.

MILWAUKEE - The East Side Business Improvement District #20 in Milwaukee was awarded a grant to help fund an effort to convert an underutilized public space into a usable community gathering space that includes nearly a dozen new picnic tables painted by local artists. The judging panel said the project involves creative placemaking; adds outdoor gathering space; provides opportunities for local artists and musicians; serves a diverse population and all age groups; and has the potential to help the nearby restaurants during this pandemic.

The grant will allow the business district to purchase 10 picnic tables, hire local artists to paint them, and place them in an underutilized parking lot in the heart of their district. The project will add free, accessible, outdoor public space to a bustling business district, surrounded by some of the most diverse and dense residential neighborhoods in the state.

These “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grants are being awarded once a month through November. All projects must be completed within 60 days from winner announcement. These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost solutions that could have remarkable impacts on the shaping of neighborhoods and cities. We know how impactful $1,000 can be. This is our way of extending some seed money to get these projects off the ground.

Future grant applications will be due by July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21 and Oct. 19. The grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities. Other organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. A full listing of requirements and expectations, as well as a link to apply for the grants, can be found at

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