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About the AARP Community Challenge

Learn about our annual grant program to make communities more livable for people of all ages

AARP staff and volunteers across the country are working with local leaders and organizations to enhance the quality of life for all people of all ages. We know that great communities take time to build and sustain. But "quick actions" can be the critical spark for longer-term progress.

In 2017, AARP launched the AARP Community Challenge to fund projects that build momentum for change in communities to improve livability for all local residents. 

Each year's challenge typically begins in the early spring with the application period being announced via the award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter. (Visit for schedule information and links to lists of the winning grantees.) Scroll down to learn more.

AARP Community Challenge


The program is open to the following types of programs:

  • 501(C)(3), 501(C)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits 
  • Government entities

Not Eligible for Funding

  • Partisan, political or election-related activities
  • Studies with no follow-up action
  • Publication of books or reports
  • The acquisition of land and/or buildings
  • Research and development for a for-profit endeavor
  • Sponsorships of other organizations' events
  • Planning and related support
  • The promotion of a for-profit entity and/or its products and services
  • Communities or projects beyond the United States and its territories 

Grant Amounts and Project Parameters

If the idea is big, no project is too small! Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand for larger projects.

Projects need to deliver on one or all of the following drivers for change:

  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options in the community through permanent or temporary solutions that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability and/or and access to public and private transit.

  • Create vibrant public places in the community through permanent or temporary solutions that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.

  • Support the availability of a range of housing in the community through permanent or temporary solutions that increase accessible and affordable housing options.

  • Other community improvements: We want to know the most important needs in your community and the best quick-action ideas you have to address them.

Community Challenge grants can be used to support the following types of projects in the community. The proposed project types described below will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events.

  • Permanent physical improvement in the community
  • Temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change
  • New, innovative programming or services

Grant Selection Process

Grant recipients will be selected by an AARP panel of experts on aging, community development and livable communities. Projects will be judged on the degree to which their goals make an immediate change that leads to longer-term impact in a manner that meets all other selection criteria.

Submissions must meet the following threshold criteria to be considered:

  • All items in the grant application have been addressed or else noted as not applicable
  • The grant is not used for partisan, political or election-related activities, or property acquisition

  • The grant is not used to promote a for-profit entity or its products and/or services

  • The grant is for one of the listed qualified uses in the Project Details section of the application

More specifically, the projects are assessed on:

  • Impact (55 points): The proposed project addresses a clear need that brings positive change to the community and effectively engages residents. The project also demonstrates the ability to accelerate, grow and/or sustain the community’s livability for all, especially those 50-plus.

  • Execution (30 points): Applicants demonstrate capacity to deliver the Community Challenge project on time and within awarded budget.

  • Innovation (15 points): The project demonstrates creativity, aesthetic beauty, unusual design or engagement elements and/or the potential to spark additional community change.

AARP reserves the right to make funding decisions based on other criteria, in addition to those described. Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements and enter their submission with all pertinent information via the AARP Community Challenge online application. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.