AARP Community Challenge 2017 Grantees
88 quick-action projects help make communities more livable for people of all ages
For the first-ever AARP Community Challenge, AARP received almost 1,200 applications, resulting in a highly competitive selection process. As a "quick action" grant, the winners were announced on September 7 and given a completion deadline of November 1, 2017.
Scroll down to see the list of 88 winning grantees, through which AARP invested nearly $780,000 to create change and improve quality of life for people of all ages in communities across the nation. Each project (several of which are featured in this slideshow and in the free AARP publication Where We Live) delivered on one or all of the following:
- Improve social connections through the built environment for people of all ages and abilities
- Expand work, volunteer, educational and/or training opportunities for all residents
- Drive inclusive community engagement and interaction across a diverse population
The list of 2017 grantees is organized by state and then city, followed by the name of the grantee organization. (See a list of some of the 2017 grantees organized by category.)
Three additional projects not listed below but located in Fort Worth, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Fort Wayne, Indiana, received support from AARP and the urban planners of Team Better Block.
- The Better Block projects, as well as the projects listed below with a [WWL], are featured in the 2018 edition of Where We Live.
- Birmingham: REV Birmingham
The nonprofit, its partners and stakeholders conducted pop-up demonstration projects to show how improved street safety and traffic flow for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians can be an economic catalyst in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood and commercial district.
- Mobile: Victory Teaching Farm
The Center for Family and Community Development installed ramps and raised garden beds so people of all ages and abilities can participate in farm activities.
- Anchorage: Alaska Trails
Grant funds helped involve residents in decisions to improve the built environment and create active transportation options for people of all ages and ability levels.
- Chino Valley: Yavapai Regional Transit Inc.
The grant was used to install a much-needed ADA-compliant walkway, bench and bus stop shelter. [WWL] Photo Album
- Phoenix: Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.
Funding was provided for the installation of a crosswalk near a busy, six-lane intersection in the city’s Maryvale neighborhood
- Fayetteville: Sources for Community Independent Living Services
An open house educational event was held to raise awareness among residents and leaders about the importance of lifelong housing options and accessible housing for all.
- Fontana: City of Fontana
Funding was provided to purchase materials in support of Fontana Walks, an initiative that encourages residents of all ages to walk a collective “2 Billion Steps” (or 1 million miles) in 365 days.
- San Diego: Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform
CARR created a board game, called Boomer.ology, that's based on the 8 Domains of Livability framework (used by the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities) and designed to engage older adults in the process of making San Diego a more age-friendly city. The game initiated discussions about what age-friendly meant in terms of community infrastructure. Article
- Santa Cruz: Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay
The grant helped build an ADA-compliant accessory dwelling unit (ADU) as part of a program that enables older homeowners to age in place. [WWL] Video
- West Sacramento: City of West Sacramento
The grant money was used to improve pedestrian safety by adjusting signal timing and installing pedestrian-controlled crosswalk buttons near a housing development occupied by older adults. [WWL]
- Colorado Springs: Innovations in Aging Collaborative
Funds were provided for an Intergenerational Walk to School Day event to spur community engagement and interaction among residents of all ages
- Wheat Ridge: Localworks
By showcasing the work of the Activate 38 Coalition through a neighborhood event, the community learned about safe, nonmotorized ways to navigate the 38th Avenue corridor, which is a downtown Main Street-type destination. [WWL]
- Dover: City of Dover
Grant funds financed signage along walking paths to promote the reopening of a long-closed trail.
District of Columbia
- Washington, D.C.: Van Ness Main Street
This intergenerational project brought together older adults and millennials to create a new public space for people of all ages. Article and Photo Album
- Cutler Bay: Town of Cutler Bay Parks and Recreation
Accessible fitness equipment was purchased and installed under a shade canopy in a park that hosts activities for older adults. [WWL]
- Fort Myers: Streets Alive of Southwest Florida (Lee County)
Grant monies were used to host a fun, educational Open Streets demonstration event in a low-income neighborhood that has little infrastructure, high bicycle dependency and high crash rates.
- St. Petersburg: Florida Consumer Action Network Foundation
On an October Sunday in 2017, Central Avenue was closed to cars and opened to fun for an Open Streets event
- Macon: South Macon Arts Revitalization Technology, Inc.
Outdoor chess/checkers tables and a Connect Four game were purchased and installed on the grounds of a planned community center. [WWL] Article and Video
- Union City: Christian City, Inc.
Funds helped the nonprofit’s Senior Wellness Program create ways for residents to engage in fitness activities.
- Honolulu: Age-Friendly Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University
The grant supported a public awareness campaign to educate businesses and other organizations on how to better serve older adults. [WWL] Article
- Honolulu: Age-Friendly Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University
Grant funds helped educate young people about the importance of age-friendly cities through an interactive exhibit at the Children and Youth Day events held at the Hawaii State Capitol.
- Boise/Kuna: Idaho Smart Growth
On October 21, 2017, the Bernie Fisher Parking Lot in downtown Kuna was transformed into a pop-up plaza project that demonstrated the benefits of public gathering places. [WWL] Video State Video
- Batavia: Batavia MainStreet
A one-day event educated residents about mobility from different perspectives, including walking, bicycling, pushing a stroller and traveling in a wheelchair.
- Wilmette: Go Green Wilmette
Volunteers and advocates demonstrated active transportation options and infrastructure by using Go Green’s “pop-up supplies” tool kit. [WWL]
- Kokomo: YMCA of Kokomo
More than a dozen wayfinding signs were created and installed along the City-Line Trolley route and the Walk of Excellence Trail.
- Carlisle: City of Carlisle
To help create a more walkable and attractive community, the city installed 10 benches, 10 planters, eight bicycle racks and 20 banner-sign mounts for its trails and downtown.
- Wichita: Wichita Public Library Foundation
Walk Wichita participated in Wichita’s Open Streets event in September 2017 by launching three walking tours through the PocketSights app. The tours were accessible and navigable for people with varying degrees of mobility. [WWL] Video
- Bowling Green: WKU Aging Center for Gerontology
Funds were granted to develop a mural by alumni of the Over Fifty Academy (a leadership group within the Age-Friendly Bowling Green effort) and Companions of Respected Elders, a student group at Western Kentucky University.
- Lexington: Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government
ADA-accessible benches were placed in a U-shaped, conversation-friendly configuration in Idle Hour Park. Video
- New Orleans: FitLot
The construction of a footbridge and walking path connected this community fitness park to the Lafitte Greenway, an active rails-to-trails pedestrian path. In addition, FitLot coaches provided more than 36 hours of free fitness coaching to older people from a community that suffers from one of the largest health disparity gaps in the nation. [WWL] Video
- Bethel: Bethel Area Age-Friendly
The grant was used to construct a display and kit featuring tools and household accessories that can make a home safer and help prevent falls.
- Bowdoinham: Advisory Committee on Aging
Raised planters were constructed for residents who had stopped gardening because they were unable to keep a traditional, in-the-ground garden. [WWL] Article
- North Yarmouth: North Yarmouth Fire Rescue
The department installed Knox Home Box key safes outside the homes of older residents so first responders can access a key or code for rapid entry into the home in case of an emergency. [WWL]
- Wayne: Aging at Home
Two flashing traffic signs and two “Stop for Pedestrians” signs were purchased and installed along a busy roadway. [WWL]
- Baltimore: Pigtown Main Street
As part of a long-term infrastructure improvement project, a pop-up demonstration park event was held at an intersection in need of safety enhancements. [WWL]
- Natick: Metropolitan Area Planning Council
The council developed and promoted changes to address the specific mobility, recreational and logistical needs of older adults so they could use local off-road trails. [WWL]
- Stoneham: Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham and Wakefield
Grant funds were used to build an intergenerational community garden.
- Bessemer: City of Bessemer
Artistic bicycle stands were installed to provide secure bike parking and encourage people to pedal rather than drive
- Wayne: Wayne Main Street
An underutilized alleyway owned by the city was transformed into a gathering and event space. Article and Video
- St. Paul: Department of Public Works
The city made crosswalks more visible to roadway users by adding art and creative features and installed, for demonstration purposes, temporary pedestrian safety elements to improve walkability.
- St. Paul: District 6 Planning Council
Permanent message centers, used to display multilingual community and events information, were installed along the Rice Street corridor in the North End
- Gulfport: City of Gulfport
The grant was used to create Bark Park on an acre of property at the new Brickyard Bayou Park, which is located in a part of the city that was devastated during Hurricane Katrina. [WWL] Video
- St. Louis: Citizens for Modern Transit
Pop-up demonstrations were used to build support for the development of improved public transit. Video
- Bozeman: Western Transportation Institute and City of Bozeman
A mobile tool kit for pop-up projects was created to showcase how temporary demonstrations can help improve streets for travel by foot, bicycle, bus, wheelchair and other means. [WWL] Photo Album
- Deer Lodge: Powell County Parks
Grant funds were used to connect the commercial district that includes the Deer Lodge Medical Center with parks and residential neighborhoods.
- Missoula: Missoula County
The funding was used to show how pedestrian-oriented infrastructure improves public safety, creates a sense of place and provides opportunities for people to gather and interact
- Hebron: Thayer County Walking Coalition
The grant was used for wayfinding signage to improve walkability and create places for residents to socialize and appreciate the area’s historical locations.
- Kearney: Kearney Works
Independent, contracted drivers recruited from Kearney’s “robust population of recently-retired older adults“ traveled along a set route with strategically located passenger pick-up sites. For a nominal fee, passengers were able to share safe, reliable rides to employment, child care, job interviews and other destinations
- Las Vegas: Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health: Keep Memory Alive
A web-based community network was developed to facilitate communication and provide important resources to Nevadans affected by dementia.
- Conway: Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition
The coalition partnered with The Gibson Center for Senior Services and others to educate homeowners about accessory dwelling units and the state’s 2017 law allowing them. Article and Photo Album
- Garfield: City of Garfield
The initiative Generations for Garfield implemented pop-up wellness-center events at its local VFW post to provide programming in a centrally located, multigenerational space.
- Jersey City: City of Jersey City
Older adults from Marion Gardens, a public housing site with more than 600 residents, assisted in planting trees to beautify underutilized outdoor spaces and encourage green infrastructure. [WWL]
- Truth or Consequences: Main Street Truth or Consequences
Grant funds were used to improve the walkability of the downtown area and create the Walk Downtown outreach program.
- Bethlehem: Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy
Project funding was used to install a mural along the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. The grant was key in garnering additional community support for the county’s Art on Rail Trail project.
- Middleburgh: Village of Middleburgh
Six benches and two multiuse tables were added to the village’s parks and business district.
- Newburgh: City of Newburgh
A demonstration was staged as part of the city and Orange County’s Complete Streets program for Lake Street.
- Clay County: Hinton Rural Life Center
Grant funding supported Mental Health First Aid training for two individuals, enabling them to better assist people experiencing a mental health crisis.
- Orange County: Orange County Department on Aging
In conjunction with the county’s public transportation department, the grant was used to improve bus stop locations that lacked adequate shelters, benches or even flat areas for waiting passengers. [WWL]
- Raleigh: City of Oaks Foundation
AARP grant funds were used to purchase equipment for events at a community center that hosts educational programs in art, nature, history and gardening.
- Bismarck: City of Bismarck
The grant provided a “quick build” pedestrian/bike connection from downtown to the riverfront. Video
- McComb: McComb Economic Development Organization
Grant money was used to add drinking fountains, acquire swing sets suitable for children and adults with disabilities, and install benches at park reservoirs so visitors could sit near the water.
- Oxford: Oxford Seniors, Inc.
The grant supported the creation of The Directory, a 50-page resource guide for older adults and their families.
- Shawnee: City of Shawnee
The grant was used to install a mini traffic circle in order to reduce vehicle speeds and increase safety. The project has accomplished both, making it easier for pedestrians to cross the street. [WWL]
- Eugene: SquareOne Villages
Grant funds were used for construction materials to complete an ADA-compliant tiny home in Emerald Village, an affordable housing community of 22 tiny houses. [WWL] Photo Album
- Port Orford: Port Orford Street Revitalization Association
Grant monies enabled the purchase and placement of benches with attached planters to provide pedestrians with places to sit. [WWL] Photo Album
- Harrisburg: Tri County Community Action Commission
A vacant, overgrown lot was turned into a usable space by planting no-mow grass that, once established, grows only 6 inches high and needs mowing only twice a year. [WWL] Video
- Philadelphia: Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
A program called Go, Go, Go encouraged residents to get out of their homes and spend time outdoors. The events gave older people with limited English-language proficiency the opportunity to take part in community activities. The grant also enabled the organization to host free art and gardening classes. [WWL] Video and Photo Album
- Newport: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center
A grant-funded cooking expo provided recipes for the first two chapters of a cookbook that also includes information about community resources. [WWL] Article
- Camden: City of Camden
A downtown alley connecting Broad Street to the Town Green lacked welcoming amenities. The grant helped enliven the connecting space. [WWL] Article and Video
- Columbia: City of Columbia
Funding was provided to install seating along Main Street, an area that attracts pedestrians and hosts events that draw people from the surrounding region. [WWL]
- Rapid City: Neighbor Works Dakota Home Resources
Flags were placed in locations around the North Rapid neighborhood to increase interest in the area and encourage engagement in community activities. [WWL]
- Nashville: Nashville Civic Design Center
Two community engagement and public space projects were implemented in several neighborhoods to help improve quality of life, walkability, health and safety. Video
- Houston: Avenue CDC
The grant was used to create public art, murals and an event designed to bring the community together. By improving once off-putting public spaces, the project increased walkability and reduced barriers to healthy foods and activities
- Houston: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston
Grant funding helped make the homes of older adults safe and livable. In addition, volunteers helped older adults with yard work and household chores. [WWL] Article
- Salt Lake City: Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services
The Transit Together Grocery Project taught residents of two low-income, older-adult communities how to use public transit to get to a grocery store and other destinations. [WWL]
- Salt Lake City: Seven Canyons Trust
The funding was used to build support for the completion of a hiking trail between Provo and Ogden. A community event kicked off with a design workshop, familyfriendly fun and a walking tour of the proposed Folsom Trail. [WWL] Photo Album and Article
- Hyde Park: Village of Hyde Park
ADA-accessible picnic tables, surfaces and curb ramps were installed in French Park.
- Montpelier: City of Montpelier
AARP grant funds supported the development of a downtown area through the installation of tables, plants, lighting, bicycle racks and more.
- Farmville: Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity
The funding supported a mobile repair trailer for storing and transporting tools used to make safety improvements in homes that, in many cases, have been in families for generations and are in need of significant repair. [WWL] Video
- Renton: City of Renton
A pop-up event celebrated National PARK(ing) Day by transforming a parking spot into a temporary public gathering space. [WWL]
- Seattle: City of Seattle
A hackathon called A City for All was held to coincide with the National Day for Civic Hacking. The event helped participants learn about age-friendly initiatives and related issues. [WWL] Video
- Charleston: Faith in Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley
The grant was used to run a volunteer program that assists older adults with daily tasks. [WWL] Video
- Hinton: City of Hinton Historic Landmarks Commission
Grant monies covered the cost of purchasing and installing plaques recognizing the historic significance of locations in the Hinton Historic District.
- Milwaukee: Wisconsin Bike Federation
Grant money was used to create a traffic calming demonstration kit and host a workshop in which older residents identified the types of infrastructure features they wanted to see where they lived.
- Oconomowoc: City of Oconomowoc
The AARP grant helped turn an underutilized alley into a corridor connecting the main street with a nearby lake. [WWL]
- Casper: Casper Area Transportation Coalition
A bus shelter with seating was installed on South Pennsylvania Avenue. [WWL]
- Jackson: Senior Center of Jackson Hole
A trash-strewn bus stop was cleaned up and then made more appealing and usable by the addition of landscaping, a bench and bus information signage. [WWL] Photo Album
AARP Community Challenge Resources
Learn: Read about the grant submission process
AARP Community Challenge Home Page: Visit AARP.org/CommunityChallenge
Questions: Contact us by emailing CommunityChallenge@aarp.org
Page published September 2017 | Updated July 2018
Enter a topic, name, place, etc.