Applications Open for AARP Community Challenge Grants

Small grants for "quick-action" projects that help communities become more livable: public spaces, housing, transportation, civic engagement. Deadline: March 22

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust used a grant from AARP to help complete Golden Age Park. Image: Screengrab from AARP video
The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust used a grant from AARP to help complete Golden Age Park. Image: Screengrab from AARP video

The now-annual round of AARP Community Challenge Grants for small scale, quick-action projects that can make communities better is now open for applications, with a deadline of March 22. The grants are available for nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and other organizations with an idea for a project that can improve their community in some way.

Eligible projects can be many things, from permanent physical improvements to temporary demonstrations to programming and services. The grants range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the scope of the project. The average grant amount since 2017 has been about $11,500, and more than three-quarters of the grants have been for less than $15 thousand. The largest grant awarded so far was for $50,000.

The AARP encourages innovative ideas; past grants in California have gone to

  • A program in West Sacramento that offered seniors training and practice using the on-demand transit service Via and Jump e-bikes, both of which were already available in the city.
  • A Habitat for Humanity program in Santa Cruz that helps residents add ADA-compliant accessory dwelling units to their properties to increase housing and maybe allow them to age in place.
  • The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, to create Golden Age Park on a vacant lot in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood. Community members there led a design process to create a community garden, shaded picnic areas, walking paths, public art, native-plant landscaping, and both a children’s play area and outdoor fitness equipment for older adults.

Successful applications will be for projects that support residents age fifty or over and are inclusive, address disparities, directly engage volunteers, and:

  • Create vibrant public places
  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options
  • Support a range of housing options
  • Ensure a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Support communities’ efforts to build engagement and leverage funding available under new federal programs through laws including the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and more
  • Increase civic engagement

Projects that are not eligible include partisan and political activities, publications, acquisition of land, buildings, or vehicles, and promotion of products and services.

For more information, check the website here. AARP is also sponsoring a webinar to answer questions and help applicants create a strong grant application. That will take place on February 17 at 11 a.m. Register at this link.

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