Today, AARP announced awardees for its 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant program, with entities in Jackson and Cokeville, Wyoming receiving grants totalling over $35,000.
The Jackson Hole Land Trust was awarded a $10,250 grant from AARP to provide benches in downtown Jackson. The Land Trust will partner with local artists and AARP’s Age Friendly Jackson, to purchase and install at least three locally-made benches. The benches will be located on The Block, a 1.3 acre of downtown greenspace that was recently preserved by the Land Trust. The Block will also include 100-year-old Cottonwood trees, ADA pathways through the greenspace. The Block is on the same street as a local assisted living center, and one block from the Jackson Town Square.
“Our intent is to tap into Jackson’s nationally recognized art scene to develop timeless, accessible, and locally made benches that provide a space for all members of our community,” says JR Rodriguez, community conservation manager for the Jackson Hole Land Trust.
This will be the third year out of the four years the program has existed that a Community Challenge Grant will have been awarded to an entity in the Jackson Hole area.
The Cokeville Senior Citizens Center is receiving $25,000 in Challenge Grant funds to improve walkability as well as the ability for citizens to access the town’s Senior Center. The grant is part of nearly $47,000 in community improvements, which will also include increasing access to the Cokeville City Park’s pavilion and restrooms, by adding ramps to each.
The Cokeville project will include improvements to crumbling concrete, the addition of ramps, and replacement of a raised deck in the courtyard at the Senior Center, which will allow those with wheelchairs, walkers, or canes to take part in outdoor activities at the center.
“Civic engagement is an important aspect of healthy aging and we see this as an investment in their mental as well as their physical health,” says Laura Pope, site manager of the Cokeville Senior Center. “We would like to have access all around our park to allow a safe place for them to walk in safety and be active. It is my hope that we will no longer see our seniors in wheelchairs trying to hear the activities from the street.”
About the Community Challenge Grant Program
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.
In 2020, AARP’s Community Challenge Grant program will distribute roughly $2.4 million to support 184 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.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.
Past Wyoming Community Challenge Grantees
In 2019, The North Main Street Association in Sheridan was granted $11,700 to fund a new gazebo, picnic table and nine benches along the North Main Trail. Meanwhile, The Jackson Hole Community Pathways project was awarded a $14,440 grant to help make downtown Jackson a more enjoyable space for the age 50+. Jackson Hole Community Pathways used the money on a design workshop to solicit input from those age 50 and over on downtown walkability, amenities, and activities. Pathways is also coordinating with Cycling Without Age and Teton Adaptive Sports for two Trishaw bikes that will provide rides to seniors around town.
In 2018, AARP’s Community Challenge program funded projects in Laramie and Rock Springs. In Laramie, a grant of $20,000 to fund a new fully accessible community garden to increase access to healthy food, multi-generational learning opportunities, and support a culture of health for all people living with mobility and disability challenges. In Rock Springs, a $5,000 grant has funded a mural to be prominently displayed in Downtown Rock Springs, which will depict the hard work and sacrifices of local miners and railroad workers.
In 2017, two Wyoming communities – Casper and Jackson – were awarded Community Challenge Grants. In Casper, the grant provided a safer and more convenient bus stop behind the city’s east side Albertsons at 2625 East Second Street. In Jackson, a similar bus stop was replaced in an area which was cluttered with weeds, a broken down vehicle and other trash in an underserved area of the community. A bench was placed on the site and age-friendly signage entices low-income seniors, disabled individuals, and young families to use the bus system.
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. View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.