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AARP Announces Another Round of Community Challenge Grants

San Diego’s City Heights Community Development Corporation received a grant in 2018 for this “placemaking” project aimed at slowing traffic speeds. Photo courtesy AARP.

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

The third round of Community Challenge Grants under AARP's Livable Communities program was announced yesterday.

AARP California Associate State Director Rafi Nazarians told Streetsblog that there is no upper or lower limit on dollar amount of these grants, nor on the size of projects that are eligible. The organization is looking for projects that "get folks to come together to inspire change." They fall into four categories:

    • Transportation. Proposals in this category would help provide "a range of transportation and mobility options," according to Nazarian. They could be permanent or temporary, they could help increase safe bikeability or walkability, or improve streets or roadways. Last year, for example, Chula Vista and West Sacramento used grants to encourage and train riders about transit, on-demand shuttles, and bike-share programs. Long Beach received a grant to create a temporary crosswalk for a ten-mile community walk aimed at increasing dialogue around safety and public spaces.
    • Housing. Winning projects would increase or support accessible or affordable housing options,
    • Public Spaces. These projects would help create vibrant vibrant public spaces, either permanent or temporary, or improve parks or access to them.
    • Smart Cities. This is a new category this year, and is for "anything that encourages residents to use data to connect and work with each other'" to solve problems. According to the AARP website, "the intention ... is to encourage applicants to demonstrate new ways to engage in decision-making about housing, transportation, economic development, placemaking, infrastructure, or other community aspects."

The Community Challenge Grant program is also looking for other good ideas on community improvements, especially ones that help identify and address the most important needs in a community with quick-action ideas.

Last year the AARP received over 1,600 applications for these grants, of which 129 projects nationwide received awards totaling $1.3 million. Five of those were in California: the ones mentioned above in Chula Vista, West Sacramento, and Long Beach, as well as one in San Francisco and another in San Diego.

Nazarians emphasized that the size of the grants isn't necessarily important. "We just want really good ideas," he said. "As long as the projects can be completed by November, they are eligible."

The main criteria is that projects "involve quick action to spur change and create a dialogue down the line" about how to make communities better. AARP wants to use these grants "as a way to start and continue dialogue with jurisdictions on what they're doing in terms of transportation, housing, and smart cities, to encourage cities to look at issues of livability and make a plan for how residents age," said Nazarians.

"Livable Communities is a focus for AARP," he said. "As the U.S. population ages, we want to make sure that cities and counties are prepared."  It also turns out that "these grants end up being good for people of all ages."

Municipal and county agencies and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.

Since 2017, the AARP has funded a total of 217 Community Challenge Grant projects, in all fifty states and U.S. territories. More information about last year's grants can be found here, and instructions for applying for this year's grants are here.

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