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AARP Community Challenge FAQs

Start here for answers to questions about the AARP Community Challenge

The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the AARP Livable Communities initiative, which works with AARP State Offices and local leaders throughout the nation so communities can be more livable for people of all ages. 

Learn more by visiting

The AARP Community Challenge helps local governments and nonprofit organizations make immediate improvements that can jump-start positive change.

Since the program's debut in 2017, AARP Community Challenge has awarded $16.4 million through more than 1,370 grants grants in across 900 communities reaching 100 million people. The projects have been completed across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Find more AARP Community Challenge Facts and Stats.)

See the answers to several Frequently Asked Questions below:

January 10, 2024: Application period opens for the 2024 AARP Community Challenge

January 31, 2024, 2 pm (ET): Optional webinar for applicants. (A recording will be posted on the 2024 AARP Community Challenge page.) REGISTER HERE

March 6, 2024, 5 pm (ET): Deadline for applications

Mid-May 2024: Applicants will be notified by email of their section status 

June 12, 2024: Deadline for grantees to return completed MOUs (memorandums of understanding) and vendor forms

June 26, 2024: Public annoucement of the selected grantees  — and work on the projects begin!

December 15, 2024: All projects must be completed

December 31, 2024: Deadline for after-action reports

While we recognize that sometimes unanticipated events happen that require a shift in the project or timeline, the goal of the AARP Community Challenge is to fund “quick-action” projects. For projects taking place outdoors, completion by mid-December should allow organizations to beat the winter weather that can sometimes delay projects.

If the proposed project is a small segment of a larger project, organizations may need to consider if the larger project will be at the right phase to execute this grant. If the project requires lengthy approvals or permits, organizations may need to consider if there will there be delays in executing the project and meeting the mid-December deadline, if any required approvals are not received in a timely manner. Some organizations may need to consider delaying their applications by a year.

No. The AARP Community Challenge supports communities of all sizes and delivers unique support to rural communities. In fact, 40 percent of the projects AARP has funded have gone to rural communities with another 20 percent going to suburban communities. Communities with populations as small as several hundred residents have received grants. 

The program is open to the following types of organizations:

  • 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits

    Nonprofit organizations must be recognized by the IRS in order to receive funds.
  • Government entities
  • Other types of organizations considered on a case-by-case basis

    AARP cannot provide funds to any for-profit company or individual. AARP does allow for IRS recognized tax-exempt 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations or government entities to serve as fiscal sponsors of grants.

All applications must be submitted through the link provided on the page about the 2024 AARP Community Challenge by March 6, 2024, 5 pm (ET). All applications must be completed through the online portal. No emailed or mailed applications will be accepted.

You can register to attend the webinar HERE A recording of the webinar will be posted to the AARP Community Challenge website soonafter.

Overview: Flagship Grants continue the successful Community Challenge grant program, first launched in 2017. These grants offer a broad opportunity for communities to apply for funding across several categories and to be creative.

Categories: Public Places; Transportation; Housing; Digital Connections; Community Resilience; and Community Health and Economic Empowerment.

Grant Range: Flagship Grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Since 2017, our average grant amount is $11,900 (with 83 percent of the grants being under $20,000). While AARP reserves the right to award compelling projects of any dollar amount, the largest grant that has been awarded under the AARP Community Challenge is $50,000.

Please see examples of Flagship Grant projects in Attachment C.  

Overview: This grant opportunity combines $2,500 grants with additional resources, such as webinars, cohort learning opportunities, up to two hours of one-on-one coaching with leading national organizations and AARP publications. Participation in these capacity-building and technical assistance opportunities are a critical component of the grant.

Categories: AARP will accept applications for projects that benefit residents (especially those age 50 and older) in the following categories:

  • Walk Audits – Implement walk audit assessments to enhance safety and walkability in communities (especially for people age 50-plus), with support from America Walks and using the AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit.
  • NEW! HomeFit® Modifications – Implement education, simple home modifications and/or easy home safety and accessibility solutions to make “lifelong homes” (especially for people age 50-plus), with support from RL Mace Universal Design Institute and using the AARP HomeFit® Guide.

Please see examples of Capacity-Building Microgrant projects in Attachment C

Overview: Demonstration Grants are designed to encourage replication of promising projects in communities around the country.

Categories: There are three categories under this opportunity:

  • NEW! Enhancing digital connectivity to prepare and respond to disasters for residents (especially those age 50-plus), the importance of which is discussed in the AARP Disaster Resilience Tool Kit.
  • NEW! Facilitating equitable engagement to reconnect communities that have been divided by infrastructure (with a focus on people age 50-plus), as highlighted in AARP’s award-winning Before the Highway article series.
  • Implementing housing choice design competitions that increase community understanding of the benefits of a variety of housing options including accessory dwelling units, Missing Middle Housing, tiny homes and other housing solutions (especially for people age 50-plus), and encourage implementation of policies that enable greater choice in housing.

Please see examples of Demonstration Grant projects in Attachment C

Flagship Grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Since 2017, our average grant amount is $11,900 and 83 percent of grants have been under $20,000. While AARP reserves the right to award compelling projects of any dollar amount, the largest grant that has been awarded under the AARP Community Challenge is $50,000.

The Capacity-Building Microgrants will be awarded in the amount of $2,500. They also include additional resources, webinars, cohort learning opportunities, up to two hours of individualized technical assistance and printed copies of AARP publications.

Demonstration Grants do not have a defined budget range. However, similar projects tend to fall between $10,000 and $20,000 and will not exceed $50,000. 

Please see examples of Flagship, Demonstration, and Microgrant projects in Attachment C.  

Capacity-Building Microgrants are available in three specific categories, have an identified budget ($2,500) and come with additional resources (webinars, cohort and individualized support, publications, etc.). If your organization/project does not require those additional resources to be successful or desires a larger budget, then you are welcome to submit your project under the applicable Flagship Category.

Similarly, Demonstration Grants are available in three specific categories. The difference between a Demonstration Grant and Flagship Grant is that in a Demonstration Grant, AARP is seeking to replicate specific examples of successful past projects.

Flagship Grants remain an open call for innovation with six available project categories.

Yes, your organization can submit as many applications as you like. Organizations are eligible to apply for more than one grant opportunity (Flagship, Demonstration or Capacity-Building Microgrant) and may submit multiple applications in each grant opportunity.

Just make sure each application aligns with the right grant opportunity. For example, your organization could apply for an ADA-accessible park improvement project within the traditional Flagship grant opportunity and you could also submit a second application within the Capacity-Building Microgrant area for a $2,500 walk audit project.

You can save a copy of your application as a PDF or print the entire application at any time. First, go to “My Account” and click on “My Applications” from the menu on the left-hand side. Then locate the application you would like to print and select “Print” on the far-right side. From there, you have a copy you can hold onto, email or print. 

You are always welcome to email with any questions.

During the last few days of the application period, please also look for the “REQUEST SUPPORT” link in the bottom left of the application log-in screen. From there, you can fill out a help ticket and someone from the online platform’s tech support will get back to you. 

All selected and unselected applicants will be notified by email in May using the email with which your organization applies.

Selected applicants must complete a bindingMOU (memorandum of understanding) and AARP’s vendor forms by June 12, 2024. Details on how to complete the forms will be provided to selected applicants after selection notification. Noncompliance with this deadline may result in disqualification or delayed funding.

No. Hundreds of grants have been delivered to locations enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities since 2017, but a project can benefit any community so long as it satisfies all other eligibility criteria.

Yes, absolutely, if all 2024 eligibility criteria are met.

Yes. You are eligible to apply again, and several grantees have been selected after previously applying and not receiving a grant. Please carefully review the project examples that are provided in Attachment C and throughout the AARP Community Challenge website to help inform your application. 

The following projects are NOT eligible for funding:

  • Partisan, political or election-related activities
  • Planning activities and assessments and surveys of communities without tangible engagement
  • Studies with no follow-up action
  • Publication of books or reports
  • Acquisition of land and/or buildings
  • Purchase of vehicles (such as a car or truck)
  • 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

These restrictions apply to Flagship, Demonstration, and Capacity-Building Microgrants.

Please view Attachment C for examples of projects that AARP has funded in the past. While these projects can help inform your thinking, we are also interested in innovative and fresh ideas!

The AARP Livable Map has more information about projects including photos and videos, as well as being searchable by category, location, and more.

You can see videos of previous projects, videos of each category, descriptions of previously funded projects and more at

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications we receive, we cannot offer feedback on individual project ideas or applications after submission. In 2023, AARP received more than 3,600 applications, of which 310 were funded for over $3.4 million. Many worthy projects, unfortunately, were not funded.   

Yes, you can. On the “Organization Name” line, you can list the main applicant’s name and add “in collaboration with” and list the second organization name. From there, we only need the information for the primary point of contact. However, your organization will be legally responsible for the terms and conditions in the grant MOU and the grant funding will only go to the main applicant.

If you will be using a fiscal sponsor, under the “Organization Tax Status” question, please check the box for “other” and provide additional information about your fiscal sponsor, including their name nonprofit/municipality tax status and Federal Tax Number.

Typically, AARP Community Challenge grants do not fund indirect costs such as salaries or administrative or consultant fees. The majority of the grant funding needs to go directly to project execution or implementation. Incentives, stipends, gift cards, and honorariums are eligible, but should be considered administrative costs. AARP would not pay for a significant portion of administrative overhead, staff time, ongoing program costs or the hiring of a consultant, designer, surveyor or facilitator, including project planner, graphic designer, landscape designer or site surveyor unless those indirect costs were a very small part (0 to 15 percent) of the overall request. If the application demonstrates that these types of activities are part of a broader project which shows a commitment to engage residents with some tangible demonstration, then a larger percentage of paying for a consultant or facilitator may be eligible and warranted.

AARP Community Challenge grants do not typically support ongoing programming; however, we would fund a tangible, short-term purchase that would benefit a current, ongoing program.

For example, grant funds typically wouldn’t pay for the staff, training, vehicle upkeep or gas needed to implement a current, year-round food delivery program, but funds could be used to purchase new technology or items such as a new freezer, storage pantry, reusable coolers/delivery bags, tables, benches, etc. Funds could also be used to host a temporary demonstration, civic engagement opportunity or pop-up event related to an ongoing program.

AARP recognizes that local governments and nonprofits may not have the staff expertise or skills to fully execute the projects, especially for physical infrastructure. While volunteers can bring many skills and applicants are strongly encouraged to consider the role volunteers could play (and whose work can potentially be considered “matching funds”), AARP Community Challenge grants may be used to pay contractors to execute the grant. Contractors could include construction/general contractors, artists commissioned for public art design(s), installation professionals or ride-sharing companies.  

Eligible projects will be assessed on the following. This applies to applications under all three funding opportunities.

  • IMPACT (45 points) – The project addresses a clear need that brings positive change and demonstrates the ability to overcome barriers and accelerate, grow and/or sustain the community’s efforts to become more livable for residents (especially those age 50 and older).
  • EXECUTION (30 points) – Applicants demonstrate capacity to deliver the AARP Community Challenge project on time and within the awarded budget, effectively engage residents and key stakeholders, and leverage volunteers (especially those age 50 and older) in the execution.
  • ADDRESSING DISPARITIES (15 points) – The project addresses disparities for people of color and/or other historically marginalized groups, including community members of all ages (especially those age 50 and older), abilities, incomes, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities and other backgrounds.
  • INNOVATION (10 points) – The project demonstrates creativity or unique design or engagement elements which will contribute to its impact on residents (especially those age 50 and older).

In addition to the criteria provided, AARP will also evaluate each project based on its consistency with the AARP mission to serve the needs of people age 50-plus.

The AARP Community Challenge grant is an opportunity for applicants to thoughtfully include how their project will address barriers to participation for certain populations, while acknowledging and celebrating differences within the community. Over 80 percent of recent grantees (across rural, suburban and urban locations) focused on disparities in their projects, while 75 percent directed their efforts to multi-cultural audiences. We encourage projects to address disparities by filling unmet needs and engage populations of different ages (especially those age 50-plus), abilities, incomes, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities and other backgrounds in community change efforts. 

A livable community is one that is safe and secure. It offers choices in where to live and how to get around. And it equitably serves residents of all ages, ability levels, incomes, races, ethnicities and other backgrounds. Learn more at What is a Livable Community?

In the application, you will be asked to explain how your organization makes the community more livable for all. 

Matching funds are not required. If your project will be using volunteers, you can account for the monetary value of their donated time as an in-kind donation or matching funding. Various websites can provide the estimated monetary value of volunteer hours.   

One document can be uploaded to the application, but it is not required. Some applicants may wish to explain their project visually or more in-depth than the application permits. Multiple files should be combined into one document. The format of the document (e.g., JPEG, PDF, DOCX) does not matter. 

If your application is funded, you will receive detailed guidance about branding, including a package with AARP logo files and pre-approved acknowledgment language. If you'll be putting out press releases or social media posts, those should include verbiage about how the project was funded by AARP. You will also be invited to coordinate publicity with your AARP State Office.

If your project is funded, you will design and secure your own signage or banners to acknowledge the AARP Community Challenge grant, but AARP will provide plenty of examples and guidance at that time. You may include funding to pay for signage in your grant request and project budget.

If your application is funded under the Flagship or the Demonstration Grant, your organization will need to carry and maintain comprehensive general liability (and professional liability, if applicable) in an amount not less than one million dollars ($1,000,000) and workers’ compensation insurance in an amount as required by applicable law covering all personnel engaged in the execution of the grant.

If your application is funded under the Capacity-Building Microgrant, your organizations will need to carry and maintain comprehensive general liability insurance in an amount that’s appropriate to cover the potential liability of the project as determined by the organization.

Organizations will need to retain financial documentation and expenses in accordance with their own policies. AARP retains the right to review financial documents, but they do not need to be submitted with the after-action report.

Copies of photo releases obtained during the project execution will be retained by the organization. AARP retains the right to review photo releases, but they do not need to be submitted with the after-action report. 

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.

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 and its affiliates and their respective officers, directors, employees, contractors, agents and representatives from all liability associated with sharing the Project Information with potential funders.

Go to to find contact information for your AARP State Office. Click on your state. The information will be listed on the next page.

To stay informed about future AARP Community Challenge grant opportunities, please subscribe to the free, award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter.

If the information you seek is not covered by these FAQs, please email us at

Learn more about the AARP Community Challenge

Questions about the AARP Community Challenge can be emailed to

Page updated January 2024

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