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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. 




  • 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 DiegoConsumer Advocates for RCFE Reform
    CARR created a board game, called Boomer.ologythat'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 CruzHabitat 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 SacramentoCity 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]


  • Hartford: KNOX Inc.
    Staff and volunteers rebuilt the Broad Street Community Garden’s raised beds so the planters could be used by children, older adults and people with disabilities. [WWL]  Article 


  • 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





  • 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]



  • BessemerCity of Bessemer
    Artistic bicycle stands were installed to provide secure bike parking and encourage people to pedal rather than drive

  • WayneWayne 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. PaulDistrict 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



  • 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.

  • MissoulaMissoula 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


New Hampshire

New Jersey

  • 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]

New Mexico

  • 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. 

New York

  • 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.

North Carolina

  • 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 CountyOrange 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.

North Dakota

  • 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]



  • 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

Rhode Island

South Carolina

  • 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]

South Dakota

  • 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

  • HoustonInterfaith 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


  • RentonCity of Renton
    A pop-up event celebrated National PARK(ing) Day by transforming a parking spot into a temporary public gathering space. [WWL]

  • SeattleCity 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

West Virginia


  • 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]


AARP Community Challenge Resources

Learn: Read about the grant submission process

AARP Community Challenge Home Page: Visit

Questions: Contact us by emailing

Page published September 2017 | Updated July 2018

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