For the first-ever AARP Community Challenge, AARP has invested nearly $780,000 to create change and improve the quality of life for people of all ages in communities across the nation. We 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 this year's 88 winning grantees, all of which will appear in the third edition of the AARP book series Where We Live: Communities for All Ages, to be published in June 2018. (In the meantime, a few of the efforts can be seen in this video.)
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
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, will be receiving support from AARP and the urban planners of Team Better Block.
- Birmingham: REV Birmingham | Tactical Urbanism
REV Birmingham (REV) and its partners and stakeholders will conduct "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.
- Mobile: Victory Teaching Farm | Community Garden
The Center for Family and Community Development will install raised gardening beds to allow people of all ages and abilities full access to the farm.
- Anchorage: Alaska Trails | Tactical Urbanism
Grant funds will help 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.
- Chino Valley: Yavapai Regional Transit Inc. | Transportation Options
The grant will be used to install a much-needed ADA-compliant pad and walkway at a transit station.
- Phoenix: Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. | Walkability
Funding will be used to install a safer crosswalk near a busy, six-lane intersection in the city's Maryvale neighborhood.
- Fayetteville: Sources for Community Independent Living Services | Housing Options
An open house educational event will be 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.
- Fontana: City of Fontana | Walkability
The grant will be used 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 Diego: Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform | Communications
CARR will create 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.
- Santa Cruz: Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay | Housing Options
Funding will help 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 Sacramento: City of West Sacramento | Walkability
The grant money will be 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
An "Intergenerational Walk to School Day" event will be hosted on October 4 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 will learn 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
By rebuilding the Broad Street Community Garden's 22 raised-garden beds, the planters will be accessible to children, older adults and people with disabilities.
- Dover: City of Dover | Walkability
By placing signage along walking paths to promote the reopening of a long-blocked trail, former users will realize 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. will be transformed and made more usable through landscaping , public art and seating.
- Cutler Bay: Town of Cutler Bay Parks and Recreation | Park Enhancements
Needed fitness equipment will be purchased for a local park.
- Fort Myers: Streets Alive of Southwest Florida (Lee County) | Walkability
Grant monies will be 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 | Tactical Urbanism
On October 29, 2017, the city's Central Avenue will be closed to cars and opened to walking and biking for an Open Streets event that will include pop-up demonstrations of protected bike lanes and a pedestrian plaza.
- Macon: South Macon Arts Revitalization Technology, Inc. | Park Enhancements
Chess tables and Connect games will be added to a playground currently under construction as a way for older and younger residents to spend time together.
- Union City: Christian City, Inc. | Wellness
Funds will help the nonprofit's Senior Wellness Program create ways for residents to engage in fitness activities.
- Honolulu: Age-Friendly Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University | Communications
The grant will support a public awareness campaign that includes a list of 10 ways businesses and other organizations can better serve older adults.
- Honolulu: Age-Friendly Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University | Intergenerational Engagement
Grant funds will help 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: Idaho Smart Growth | Tactical Urbanism
A pop-up plaza project will demonstrate the benefits of public gathering places.
- Batavia: Batavia MainStreet | Tactical Urbanism
A one-day event will educate residents about mobility from different perspectives, including walking, bicycling, pushing a stroller and traveling in a wheelchair.
- Wilmette: Go Green Wilmette | Tactical Urbanism
Volunteers and advocates will be able to demonstrate active transportation options and infrastructure by using Go Green's "pop-up supplies" tool kit, which grant funds will help create.
- Kokomo: YMCA of Kokomo | Walkability
More than a dozen wayfinding and instructional signs will be created and installed along the City-Line trolley route and the Walk of Excellence Trail.
- Carlisle: City of Carlisle | Downtown Revitalization
The city will purchase and install 10 benches, 10 planters, eight bicycle racks, and 20 banner-sign mounts for its historic downtown and trail areas.
- Wichita: Wichita Public Library Foundation | Walkability
The library and Bike Walk Wichita will contribute to the success of Wichita's Open Streets event on September 24 by launching three historical walking tours through the PocketSights app. The tours will be accessible and navigable for people with varying degrees of mobility.
- Bowling Green: WKU Aging Center for Gerontology | Placemaking and Beautification
Muralist Megan Jain will 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
ADA-accessible benches will be 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 will connect a community fitness park to the Lafitte Greenway, an active rails-to-trails pedestrian path.
- Bethel: Bethel Area Age-Friendly | Home Repair and Safety
The grant will be used 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 will be 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 will purchase 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 will be purchased and installed to alert drivers that they're approaching a crosswalk. In addition, two "Stop for Pedestrians" signs will be 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 will be displayed at an intersection in significant need of safety enhancements.
- Natick: Metropolitan Area Planning Council | Walkability
The council will develop and promote changes to address the specific mobility, recreational and logistical needs of older adults so they can use the off-road trails in Natick.
- Stoneham: Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham and Wakefield | Community Garden
Funds will be used to build an intergenerational community garden where older adults can mentor the children of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
- Bessemer: City of Bessemer | Transportation Options
Artistic bicycle stands will be installed around the city to provide secure bicycle parking and, hopefully, encourage more people to bicycle rather than drive.
- Wayne: Wayne Ripple Effect | Placemaking and Beautification
An underutilized alleyway owned by the city will be transformed into a community gathering and events space.
- Saint Paul: Department of Public Works | Transportation Options
The city will make 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 Paul: District 6 Planning Council | Communications
Five permanent "message centers," used to display multilingual community and events information, will be installed along the Rice Street corridor in the North End.
- Gulfport: City of Gulfport | Park Enhancements
The grant will be 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. Louis: Citizens for Modern Transit | Transportation Options
Pop-up demonstration programing in the North Hanley Station will be used to build support for the long-term development for improved public transit.
- Bozeman: Western Transportation Institute and City of Bozeman | Tactical Urbanism
A mobile tool kit for pop-up projects will be 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 will be used to connect the commercial district that includes the Deer Lodge Medical Center with the city's parks and residential neighborhoods.
- Missoula: Missoula County | Walkability
Funding will be 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 will provide 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" — will travel 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.
- Las Vegas: Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health: Keep Memory Alive | Communications
A web-based community network will facilitate communication and provide important resources to Nevadans affected by dementia.
- Conway: Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition | Housing Options
The coalition will partner 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.
- Garfield: City of Garfield | Tactical Urbanism
The Garfield Age-Friendly Initiative (Generations for Garfield) will implement 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) will assist in planting trees to beautify the community's under-utilized outdoor spaces and encourage green infrastructure.
- Truth or Consequences: Main Street Truth or Consequences | Walkability
Grant funds will be used to encourage people to walk by improving the walkability of the downtown and creating a "Walk Downtown" outreach program.
- Bethlehem: Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy | Placemaking and Beautification
Project funding will be used to install a mural along the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.
- 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) will be added to the village's parks and business district.
- Newburgh: City of Newburgh | Tactical Urbanism
A demonstration project will be held on Lake and Washington streets as part of the city and Orange County's Complete Streets program for Lake Street.
- Clay County: Hinton Rural Life Center | Mental Health
Funding will support 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 County: Orange County Department on Aging | Transportation Options
Working in cooperation with the county's public transportation department, the grant will be 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 is being transformed into a community center that will host educational programs in art, nature, history, gardening, and other areas. AARP funds will be used to purchase equipment needed for hosting community events on the property.
- Bismarck: City of Bismarck | Trail Enhancements
The grant will provide a "quick-build" pedestrian/bike connection from the city's downtown to riverfront.
- McComb: McComb Economic Development Organization | Park Enhancements
Grant monies will be 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 will support the creation of a resource guide for older adults and their families.
- Shawnee: City of Shawnee | Traffic Calming
The grant will be used to install a mini-traffic circle in order to slow vehicle speeds and enhance safety.
- Eugene: SquareOne Villages | Housing Options
Funds will be 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 will enable 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 will be 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…" will encourage residents to get out of their homes and spend time outdoors participating in a pop-up art program.
- Newport: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center | Communications
A cooking expo will serve as the launch for the first two chapters of a cookbook that features the diverse range of resources available in the community.
- Camden: City of Camden | Downtown Revitalization
A downtown alley connecting Broad Street to the Town Green lacks welcoming amenities. The grant will help 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 Columbia | Downtown Revitalization
Funding will provide seating along Main Street, which attracts a highly active pedestrian population and hosts events that draw people from the surrounding region.
- Rapid City: Neighbor Works Dakota Home Resources | Placemaking and Beautification
Forty flags will be 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 will be implemented in several neighborhoods to help improve quality of life, walkability, health and safety.
- Houston: Avenue CDC | Placemaking and Beautification
The grant will be used to create public art, murals and an event to bring the community together.
- Houston: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston | Home Repair and Safety
Funding will be used for supplies to help make the homes of older adults safe and livable.
- Salt Lake City: Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services | Accessibility
A new "Intergenerational Grocery Independence Project" will serve the low-income older adult residential communities of Friendship Manor and Wasatch Manor.
- Salt Lake City: Seven Canyons Trust | Placemaking and Beautification
Funding will be 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 will kick-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 will be installed in French Park.
- Montpelier: City of Montpelier | Downtown Revitalization
The money will support 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 will support 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.
- Renton: City of Renton | Tactical Urbanism
A pop-up event will celebrate National Park(ing) Day on September 15 by transforming parking spots into temporary public places.
- Seattle: City of Seattle | Technology
The city will host a hackathon called "A City for All" from September 22 to 24 to coincide with the National Day for Civic Hacking.
- Charleston: Faith in Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley | Volunteerism
Grant will be used to run a volunteer program that assists older adults with various daily tasks.
- Hinton: City of Hinton Historic Landmarks Commission | Walkability
Grant monies will cover the cost of purchasing and installing plaques denoting the historic significance of walking tour spots in the Hinton Historic District.
- Milwaukee: Wisconsin Bike Federation | Traffic Calming
Grant money will go toward 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 will be used to turn an 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 will be 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 involves 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.