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2019 AARP Community Challenge: The Rules

Read about the eligibility, restrictions and schedule for the AARP annual quick-action grant program

The application period for the 2019 AARP Community Challenge — a "quick-action" grant program to improve housing, transportation, public space, smart cities and other community elements — is now closed. 

  • Applications were due by April 17, 2019, 11:59 pm (ET)
  • Selected grantees were publicly announced on July 17, 2019
  • All projects were completed by November 4, 2019

Be among the first to learn when the 2020 challenge period opens:


The program is open to the following types of programs:

  • 501(C)(3), 501(C)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits 
  • Government entities
  • Other types of organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis

The following projects are Not eligible for funding:

  • Partisan, political or election-related activities
  • Planning activities and assessments and surveys of communities
  • Studies with no follow-up action
  • Publication of books or reports
  • Acquisition of land and/or buildings
  • Sponsorships of other organizations’ events or activities
  • Research and development for a nonprofit endeavor
  • Research and development for a for-profit endeavor
  • The promotion of a for-profit entity and/or its products and services

Grant Amounts and Project Parameters

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

Acceptable Projects

AARP will prioritize projects that aim to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities.” This new category will encourage communities to develop and implement innovative programs that engage residents in accessing, understanding, and using data to increase quality of life for all. The intention with this category is to encourage applicants to demonstrate new ways to engage in decision-making about housing, transportation, economic development, placemaking, infrastructure, or other community aspect.

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

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

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

The activity defined in the proposal must be completed by November 4, 2019

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.

Threshold Criteria (must meet the following criteria to be considered):

  • All items in the grant application have been addressed or noted if 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 or its products and/or services.
  • The grant is for one of the uses in the Project Details section of the application.

More specifically, the projects will be 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 herein.

Application Requirements

  • Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Applications must be submitted through the online application form (available during the application period via with all pertinent information.
  • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.


  • Grant recipients and unselected applications will be notified by email.
  • Grantees must execute and email a binding Memorandum of Understanding and completed vendor forms to AARP by July 15, 2019.
  • Noncompliance with this time period may result in disqualification or delayed funding.

An Opportunity for Other Possible AARP Funding

Please note that by submitting a proposal for the AARP Community Challenge initiative, you and your organization give AARP permission to reach out to you and others at your organization about other possible AARP funding opportunities that your proposal may be eligible for based on the AARP Community Challenge criteria. However, please note that AARP is not obligated in any way to consider your proposal for any additional AARP funding.

A note regarding other potential funders:

AARP might be contacted by other potential funders that could be interested in funding projects that were not funded through the AARP Community Challenge. The potential funders may have additional process steps and funding requirements than those of the AARP Community Challenge. If requested, AARP would like to send your contact information, organization name and a short description of the proposal including the community where the project would take place (“Project Information”). Please note that these projects will be subject to any potential funder’s own terms, conditions and review. Please indicate in your application whether or not you give permission to AARP to share your contact information and a description of your proposal. If you select “yes” you agree on behalf of yourself and your organization to release AARP from all liability associated with sharing the Project Information with potential funders. We will alert you before this information is given to potential funders.

Terms and Conditions

By submitting an application to AARP, the applicant agrees that:

  • The decisions of AARP regarding the eligibility of participants and the validity of entries shall be final and binding.
  • All submissions will be judged by AARP whose decisions and determinations as to the administration of the award and selection of award recipients are final.
  • AARP has the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, or suspend the award.
  • All projects and applications shall not violate any third-party rights.
  • Except where prohibited by law, participation in the AARP Community Challenge constitutes the Applicant’s consent to AARP’s use of the organization’s name and corporate logo, street address, city, state, zip code, county, and names, likenesses, photographs, videos, images, and statements made or provided by the Applicant’s representatives regarding the award for promotional purposes in any media without further permission, consent, payment or other consideration.

All promotional materials (such as newsletters, press releases), events and signage related to the funded project will include a statement indicating that support was received from AARP.

The organization is required to capture photos of the project and encouraged to capture video. As the organization captures photos and video of the project, if an identifiable individual appears in the photos and/or videos, the organization is responsible for having him/her sign the AARP General Release (this document will be provided to grantees with the MOU and other required paperwork). In addition the organization should not include any element in photos or videos provided to AARP that may violate third party rights such as artwork and trademarks in text and logo other than those owned by the organization and AARP. The organization should be prepared to send work in progress photos to AARP upon request. Following the grant period, grantees are required to respond to periodic requests for updates from AARP.

AARP and its affiliated organizations, subsidiaries, agents and employees are not responsible for late, lost, illegible, incomplete, stolen, misdirected, illegitimate, or impermissible submissions or any other error whether human, mechanical or electronic.

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