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AARP Community Challenge 2017 Grantees

88 "quick action" projects help make communities more livable for people of all ages

AARP Community Challenge

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.

Each project delivers 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

"Great communities require careful planning and time. These quick action projects will give community leaders the motivation and momentum to create greater change."

— Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President, Community States and National Affairs/Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer

The list of 2017 grantees is organized by state and then city, followed by the name of the grantee organization and the project category being pursued. 

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.


  • Birmingham: REV Birmingham | Tactical Urbanism 
    REV Birmingham (REV) and 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 a catalyst for increased economic vibrancy in the city's Woodlawn neighborhood and commercial district. Using funds from the AARP Community Challenge Grant, REV was able to organize volunteers and purchase materials to install a temporary Complete Streets design that was in place for three weeks.

  • Mobile: Victory Teaching Farm | Community Garden
    The Center for Family and Community Development installed raised gardening beds to allow people of all ages and abilities full access to the farm. The new garden deck is wheelchair accessible and has mobility ramps that allow those physically disabled to pick their own fresh vegetables and participate in educational programs.


  • Anchorage: Alaska Trails | Tactical Urbanism 
    Grant funds helped engage residents in decisions to improve the built environment and improve active transportation options for people of all ages and ability levels, improving both health outcomes and community cohesion. The organization used social media, news outlets, and community rides to encourage community participation in the unification of policies about bicycling, walkability, trails and Complete Streets.


  • Chino ValleyYavapai Regional Transit Inc. | Transportation Options
    The grant was used to install a much-needed ADA-compliant pad and walkway at a transit station. 

  • PhoenixChicanos Por La Causa, Inc. | Walkability
    Funding was granted to install a safer crosswalk near a busy, six-lane intersection in the city's Maryvale neighborhood.


  • FayettevilleSources for Community Independent Living Services | Housing Options
    An open house educational event was held to raise awareness among residents and leaders in the city and surrounding areas about the importance of Lifelong Housing (LLH) options and accessible housing for all individuals. Informational materials were developed and have been distributed to the public. 


  • Fontana: City of Fontana | Walkability
    Funding was provided to purchase materials to support Fontana Walks, a new initiative designed to encourage and motivate residents of all ages to walk a collective "2 Billion Steps" (or one-million miles) in 365 days.

  • San DiegoConsumer Advocates for RCFE Reform | Communications
    CARR created a board game, called Boomerology, that's based on the 8 Domains of Livability framework (used by the AARP Network of Age-Friendly 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.

  • Santa CruzHabitat for Humanity Monterey Bay | Housing Options
    Funding helped older, low-income homeowners build ADA-compliant accessory dwelling units (ADUs) so they can age-in-place while earning rental income with the addition of an affordable rental unit.

  • West SacramentoCity of West Sacramento | Walkability
    The grant money was used to improve pedestrian safety by adjusting signal timing and installing crossing buttons near senior citizen affordable housing.


  • Colorado Springs: Innovations in Aging Collaborative | Walkability
    Grant was provided for an Intergenerational Walk to School Day event to spur community engagement and interaction among residents of all ages.

  • Wheat Ridge: Localworks | Walkability
    By showcasing the work of the Activate 38 Coalition through a neighborhood event, the community learned about safe, non-motorized ways to navigate the city's 38th Avenue Corridor, an area that's being redeveloped as a downtown Main Street destination.


  • Hartford: KNOX Inc. | Community Garden
    Staff and volunteer rebuilt the Broad Street Community Garden's 22 raised-garden beds. The planters are now accessible to children, older adults and people with disabilities enabling them to grow healthy food for them and their families.  


  • Dover: City of Dover | Walkability
    By placing signage along walking paths to promote the reopening of a long-blocked trail, former users realized they can return and new users will learn about an available walking destination. 

District of Columbia

  • Washington, D.C.: Van Ness Main Street | Placemaking and Beautification 
    A plaza in the Van Ness area of D.C. transformed and made more usable through landscaping , public art and seating. This intergenerational project brought together older adults and millennials to create new space for people of all ages.


  • Cutler Bay: Town of Cutler Bay Parks and Recreation | Park Enhancements
    Needed universally accessible fitness equipment were purchased and installed under a shade canopy in a local park. The park hosts several activities geared towards older adults.

  • Fort Myers: Streets Alive of Southwest Florida (Lee County) | Walkability
    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 FoundationTactical Urbanism 
    On October 29, 2017, the city's Central Avenue closed to cars and opened to walking and biking for an Open Streets event that included pop-up demonstrations of protected bike lanes and a pedestrian plaza. Underutilized turn lanes and parking became a Reading Nook Parklet, a plant-filled Wilderness Parklet, and Game Parklets.


  • Macon: South Macon Arts Revitalization Technology, Inc. | Park Enhancements
    Chess tables and Connect games were added to a playground currently under construction as a way for older and younger residents to spend time together. The organization is currently working to develop a chess mentoring program.  

  • Union City: Christian City, Inc. | Wellness
    Funds helped the nonprofit's Senior Wellness Program create ways for residents to engage in fitness activities. The grant made the campus of a senior center more walkable and encouraged seniors to be active and social.


  • Honolulu: Age-Friendly Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University Communications
    The grant supported a public awareness campaign that includes a list of 10 ways businesses and other organizations can better serve older adults. The list helps organizations train personnel, adjust operational procedure, and improve spaces to support the physical and cognitive challenges that can be associated with aging.

  • Honolulu: Age-Friendly Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University | Intergenerational Engagement
    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. A virtual reality 360 video was created to give young views a virtual tour of an age-friendly neighborhood.


  • Boise/Kuna: Idaho Smart Growth | Tactical Urbanism
    On October 21, 2017, the Bernie Fisher Parking Lot in downtown Kuna transformed into a pop-up plaza project that demonstrated the benefits of public gathering places. The event featured entertainment, informational booths and farmers market venders among others.


  • Batavia: Batavia MainStreetTactical Urbanism
    A one-day event educated residents about mobility from different perspectives, including walking, bicycling, pushing a stroller and traveling in a wheelchair. A group of volunteers were filmed while travelling along common routes from subdivision and senior living center to downtown. The video, turned into a documentary, is being used to promote walkability and accessibility agenda in Batavia.

  • Wilmette: Go Green Wilmette | Tactical Urbanism
    Volunteers and advocates were able to demonstrate active transportation options and infrastructure by using Go Green's "pop-up supplies" tool kit, which grant funds helped create. 


  • Kokomo: YMCA of KokomoWalkability
    More than a dozen wayfinding and instructional signs were created and installed along the City-Line trolley route and the Walk of Excellence Trail. 


  • Carlisle: City of CarlisleDowntown Revitalization
    The city purchased and installed 10 benches, 10 planters, eight bicycle racks, and 20 banner-sign mounts for its historic downtown and trail areas. The equipment supported the city’s efforts for a more walkable and attractive Carlisle.


  • Wichita: Wichita Public Library Foundation Walkability
    The library and Bike Walk Wichita contributed to the success of Wichita's Open Streets event on September 24 by launching three historical walking tours through the PocketSights app. The tours were accessible and navigable for people with varying degrees of mobility. Users were able to see archival photos, hear stories about Wichita’s past, and learn more about how the three portions of Douglas Avenue grew and developed overtime.


  • Bowling Green: WKU Aging Center for Gerontology | Placemaking and Beautification
    Muralist Megan Jain will develop a mural conceptualized by alumni of the Funds were granted for Muralist Megan Jain to develop a mural conceptualized by alumni of the Over Fifty Academy (a leadership group within the Age-Friendly Bowling Green effort) and members of Companions of Respected Elders (CORE) a student group at Western Kentucky University.

  • Lexington: Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government | Trail Enhancements
    The grant allowed the creation of a conversational space for rest and relaxation along the trails of Idle Hour park. ADA-accessible benches were placed along a city trail and positioned in a U-shaped conversational style to foster greater social interaction and better enable visitors to talk to and hear one another.


  • New Orleans: FitLot Walkability
    Construction of a footbridge/walking path connected a community fitness park to the Lafitte Greenway, an active rails-to-trails pedestrian path. FitLot Coaches provided over 36 hours of cost free fitness coaching to group of seniors in a community that suffers from one of the largest health disparity gaps in the country.


  • Bethel: Bethel Area Age-Friendly | Home Repair and Safety
    The grant was used to construct a display and tool kit featuring tools and home accessories that are helpful to home safety and fall prevention.

  • Bowdoinham: Advisory Committee on Aging | Community Garden
    Elevated and vertical planting beds were constructed for use by a monthly gardening club for residents who frequent the town's food pantry.

  • North Yarmouth: North Yarmouth Fire Rescue | Emergency Response
    The fire department purchased and installed 20 home-use Knox boxes, similar to those required for the town's businesses, so first responders can access a key or code for rapid entry into a property.

  • Wayne: Aging at Home | Walkability
    Two flashing blinker signs were purchased and installed to alert drivers that they're approaching a crosswalk. In addition, two "Stop for Pedestrians" signs were placed at village crosswalks.


  • Baltimore: Pigtown Main Street | Tactical Urbanism
    As part of a major, long-term infrastructure improvement project, a pop-up demonstration park was displayed at an intersection in significant need of safety enhancements. The pop-up activation helped the community come together and reimagine and reinvent public spaces.


  • Natick: Metropolitan Area Planning Council | Walkability
    The council developed and promoted changes to address the specific mobility, recreational and logistical needs of older adults so they can use the off-road trails in Natick. The results of the project included inventory of existing resources assessment of perceptions, and a placemaking event.

  • StonehamBoys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham and Wakefield Community Garden
    Funds were used to build an intergenerational community garden where older adults can mentor the children of the Boys & Girls Club.


  • BessemerCity of Bessemer | Transportation Options
    Artistic bicycle stands were installed around the city to provide secure bicycle parking and, hopefully, encourage more people to bicycle rather than drive.

  • WayneWayne Ripple Effect | Placemaking and Beautification
    An underutilized alleyway owned by the city was transformed into a community gathering and events space.


  • Saint Paul: Department of Public Works Transportation Options
    The city made crosswalks more visible to roadway users by adding art and creative features to them and install, for demonstration purposes, temporary pedestrian safety measures to improve walkability.

  • Saint PaulDistrict 6 Planning Council | Communications 
    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 | Park Enhancements
    The grant was used to create a "Bark Park" on an acre of property at the new Brickyard Bayou Park, located in a part of the city that was devastated during Hurricane Katrina and is being redeveloped as a multi-use park.


  • St. LouisCitizens for Modern Transit | Transportation Options
    Pop-up demonstration programing in the North Hanley Station was used to build support for the long-term development of improved public transit.  


  • Bozeman: Western Transportation Institute and City of Bozeman | Tactical Urbanism
    A mobile tool kit for pop-up projects was created for showcasing how temporary demonstrations help improve street designs for traveling by foot, bicycle, bus, wheelchair and other means.

  • Deer Lodge: Powell County Parks | Trail Enhancements
    Grant funds were used to connect the commercial district that includes the Deer Lodge Medical Center with the city's parks and residential neighborhoods.

  • MissoulaMissoula County | Walkability
    Funding was used to demonstrate how pedestrian-oriented infrastructure improves public safety, creates a stronger sense of place and provides opportunities for people to gather and interact.


  • Hebron: Thayer County Walking Coalition | Walkability
    The work provided wayfinding signage to foster increased walkability and create places for community members to socialize and appreciate the area's scenery and historical locations. 

  • Kearney: Kearney Works | Transportation Options
    Independently contracted drivers — recruited from Kearney's "robust population of recently-retired older adults" — travelled along a set route populated with strategically-located passenger pick-up sites that are easily accessible by pedestrians. For a nominal fee, passengers can share safe, reliable rides to employment, child care, job interviews, and other destinations.


New Hampshire

  • Conway: Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition | Housing Options
    The coalition partnered with the Gibson Center for Senior Service and the Carrol County Coalition for Public Health to educate homeowners about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), and the state's new law allowing them, through an "Accessorize the Valley" campaign.

New Jersey

  • Garfield: City of Garfield | Tactical Urbanism
    The Garfield Age-Friendly Initiative (Generations for Garfield) implemented multiple pop-up wellness center events at its local VFW Post in an effort to provide wellness programming in a centrally located, multi-generational space.

  • Jersey City: City of Jersey City | Placemaking and Beautification
    Older adults from Marion Gardens (a public housing site with 600+ residents) assisted in planting trees to beautify the community's under-utilized outdoor spaces and encourage green infrastructure.

New Mexico

  • Truth or Consequences: Main Street Truth or Consequences | Walkability
    Grant funds were used to encourage people to walk by improving the walkability of the downtown and creating a "Walk Downtown" outreach program. 

New York

  • Bethlehem: Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy | Placemaking and Beautification 
    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 (ART) project.

  • Middleburgh: Village of Middleburgh | Park Enhancements
    Six benches and two multi-use tables (such as those suitable for playing chess as well as outdoor dining) were added to the village's parks and business district

  • Newburgh: City of Newburgh | Tactical Urbanism
    A demonstration project was held on Lake and Washington streets as part of the city and Orange County's Complete Streets program for Lake Street.

North Carolina

  • Clay County: Hinton Rural Life Center | Mental Health
    Funding supported Mental Health First Aid training for two individuals so they'll be able to provide assistance to people experiencing a mental health-related crisis. 

  • Orange CountyOrange County Department on Aging | Transportation Options
    Working in cooperation with the county's public transportation department, the grant was used to improve bus ridership in the more rural parts of northern Orange County where, although additional bus routes have been created to serve the area's older, rural population, few stops have adequate shelters, benches or even flat areas for waiting passengers.

  • Raleigh: City of Oaks Foundation | Community Center
    A donated private home had been transformed into a community center that hosts educational programs in art, nature, history and gardening. AARP funds were used to purchase equipment needed for hosting community events on the property.

North Dakota

  • Bismarck: City of Bismarck | Trail Enhancements
    The grant provided a "quick-build" pedestrian/bike connection from the city's downtown to riverfront.


  • McComb: McComb Economic Development Organization | Park Enhancements
    Grant money was used to add drinking fountains, acquire swing sets suitable for children and adults with disabilities, and install benches around park reservoirs so visitors can sit near the water.

  • Oxford: Oxford Seniors, Inc. | Communications
    The grant supported the creation of a resource guide for older adults and their families. The Directory is a 50-page resource that includes among others, public service institutions, charitable organization, public libraries, churches and the post office.


  • Shawnee: City of Shawnee | Traffic Calming
    The grant was used to install a mini-traffic circle in order to slow vehicle speeds and enhance safety. The project significantly reduced traffic speed and enabled pedestrians cross the street safely. 


  • Eugene: SquareOne Villages | Housing Options
    Funds were used for construction materials to complete an ADA-compliant tiny home in Emerald Village Eugene, an affordable housing community of 22 tiny houses.

  • Port Orford: Port Orford Street Revitalization Association | Walkability
    Grant monies enabled the purchase and placement of benches that have attached planters, thus beautifying walking paths and providing pedestrians with a place to sit.


  • Harrisburg: Tri County Community Action Commission | Placemaking and Beautification
    Vacant, overgrown lots were turned into usable spaces by planting no-mow grass that, once established, grows only 6 inches high and needs mowing only twice a year. 

  • Philadelphia: Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation | Placemaking and Beautification
    A program called "Go, Go, Go…" encouraged residents to get out of their homes and spend time outdoors participating in a pop-up art program. The events gave limited English proficient and low income seniors the opportunity to take part in community activities and share their skills. The grant enabled the organization to host seven free professionally-led art classes and seven garden club meetings.

Rhode Island

  • Newport: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center | Communications
    A cooking expo served as the launch for the first two chapters of a cookbook that features the diverse range of resources available in the community.

South Carolina

  • Camden: City of Camden | Downtown Revitalization
    A downtown alley connecting Broad Street to the Town Green lacks welcoming amenities. The grant helped activate the connecting space, which is important to the overall plan of making Downtown Camden an inviting gathering place for people of all ages. 

  • Columbia: City of ColumbiaDowntown Revitalization
    Funding was provided to install seating along Main Street, which attracts a highly active pedestrian population and hosts events that draw people from the surrounding region.

South Dakota

  • Rapid City: Neighbor Works Dakota Home Resources | Placemaking and Beautification
    Forty flags were placed in locations around the North Rapid neighborhood to increase interest in the area and encourage engagement in community activities.


  • Nashville: Nashville Civic Design Center | Downtown Revitalization
    Two community engagement and public space projects were implemented in several neighborhoods to help improve quality of life, walkability, health and safety. The projects included alley activation, street crossing enhancements, and tree planting among others.


  • Houston: Avenue CDC | Placemaking and Beautification
    The grant was used to create public art, murals and an event to bring the community together. Through improved space the project increased walkability and reduced barriers to healthy foods and activities.

  • HoustonInterfaith Ministries for Greater Houston | Home Repair and Safety
    Funding was used to purchase supplies to help make homes of older adults safe and livable. Seniors paired with volunteers received help with yard work, picking up groceries and other household chores.


  • Salt Lake City: Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services | Accessibility
    A new "Intergenerational Grocery Independence Project" served the low-income older adult residential communities of Friendship Manor and Wasatch Manor. The program created awareness about mobility challenges seniors face.

  • Salt Lake City: Seven Canyons Trust | Placemaking and Beautification
    Funding was used to build community support for the completion of the final link in nearly 100 miles of continuous trail between Provo and Ogden, Utah. A community event kicked-off with a design workshop, family-friendly fun and a walking tour of the Folsom Trail.


  • Hyde Park: Village of Hyde Park | Park Enhancements
    Two ADA-accessible picnic tables, an ADA-compliant surface and curb ramps with detectable warnings were installed in French Park.

  • Montpelier: City of Montpelier | Downtown Revitalization
    The money supported the development of a downtown area through the installation of tables, plants, lighting, bike racks and more.


  • Farmville: Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity | Home Safety and Repair
    Funding supported a mobile repair trailer for storing and transporting tools — including a pressure washer, ladders, hand tools and paint supplies — for making safety improvements to homes that, in many cases, have been in families for generations and are in need of significant repairs.


  • RentonCity of Renton | Tactical Urbanism
    A pop-up event celebrated National Park(ing) Day on September 15 by transforming parking spots into temporary public places.

  • SeattleCity of Seattle | Technology
    The city hosted a hackathon called "A City for All" from September 22 to 24 to coincide with the National Day for Civic Hacking. The event provided an opportunity for participants to learn about age-friendly initiatives and related challenges.

West Virginia


  • Milwaukee: Wisconsin Bike Federation | Traffic Calming
    Grant money went towards the procurement of a traffic calming demonstration kit and hosting a streetscape design workshop so older residents can select the types of infrastructure features they would like to see where they live.

  • Oconomowoc: City of Oconomowoc | Downtown Revitalization
    The funds were used to turn an underutilized alleyway into a corridor to connect the main street with a nearby lake.


  • Casper: Casper Area Transportation Coalition | Transportation Options
    A bus shelter with benches inside and out was installed in the South Pennsylvania Avenue right-of-way on the east side of the street and to the south of East 2nd Street. 

  • Jackson: Senior Center of Jackson Hole Transportation Options
    The project involved cleaning up a bus stop location by discarding left items, adding screening to block the view of an adjacent trash dumpster, planting landscaping, placing a bench and posting informational signage.

AARP Community Challenge Resources

Learn: Read about the 2017 grant submission process

Watch: A 30-second video about the AARP Community Challenge

AARP Community Challenge Home Page: Visit

Questions: Contact us by emailing

Page published September 2017 | Updated March 2018