The AARP Community Challenge helps local governments and nonprofit organizations make immediate improvements that can jump-start positive change.
AARP has awarded more than 800 grants since the program debuted in 2017. (Find more AARP Community Challenge Facts and Stats.)
Find answers to several frequently asked questions below.
The program is open to the following types of organizations:
- 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits
- Government entities
- Other types of organizations, considered on a case-by-case basis
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 $11,500 and 76 percent of grants have been under $15,000. While AARP reserves the right to award compelling projects of any dollar amount, the largest grant ever awarded under the AARP Community Challenge was $50,000.
Yes, your organization can submit as many applications as it wants to. Once you submit an application, you will be given the option to begin another application within the online application portal. You will not see an option to begin a second application until the first is successfully submitted.
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.
Selected grant recipients and unselected applicants for the 2022 AARP Community Challenge will be notified by email in May. Grantees must complete a binding Memorandum of Understanding and completed vendor forms to AARP by June 15, 2022. Noncompliance with this deadline may result in disqualification or delayed funding.
No. In fact, 38 percent of the AARP Community Challenge projects AARP has funded have gone to rural communities. Another 20 percent of grants have gone to suburban communities. Communities with populations as small as several hundred residents have received grants.
No. Although hundreds of grants have been delivered to communities enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities since 2017, projects can benefit any community so long as the work satisfies all other eligibility criteria.
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 (which will be posted on the 2022 AARP Community Challenge page) 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
In 2022, AARP will prioritize projects that support residents age 50 or older, are inclusive, address disparities, and directly engage volunteers. The 2022 AARP Community Challenge is very similar to previous years with some notable additions, which are noted on the 2022 landing page.
Visit the 2022 AARP Community Challenge page and download the PDF of Attachment C, which features 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!
You can see videos of previous projects, videos about each category, descriptions of previously funded projects and more via AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications we receive, we cannot offer feedback on individual applications.
Yes, you can. On the “Organization Name” line, list the main applicant name and add “in partnership with” and list the second name. From there, we only need the information for the primary point of contact.
AARP Community Challenge grants typically do not fund indirect costs such as salaries or administrative fees. The majority of grant funds will need to go directly to project execution or implementation. AARP will not pay for a significant portion of administrative overhead, staff time, ongoing program costs or the hiring of a designer or surveyor or facilitator (such as a project planner, graphic designer, landscape designer or site surveyor) unless those indirect costs are 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 that shows a commitment to engage residents with some tangible demonstration, then a larger percentage of the costs 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, AARP Community Challenge funds wouldn’t pay for the staff, training, vehicle upkeep or the 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 a pop-up event related to an ongoing program.
Eligible projects will be assessed on:
IMPACT (60 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 or older), focuses on diversity, inclusion and addresses disparities.
EXECUTION (30 points): Applicants demonstrate the 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 or older) in the execution.
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 or 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 50-plus.
Please look for the “REQUEST SUPPORT” link in the bottom left of the application log-in screen. From there, you can submit a Help Ticket and someone from the online platform’s tech support will get back to you.
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 compared to 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”).
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.
If your application is funded, you will receive detailed guidance about branding, including a package with AARP logo files and pre-approved language. For now, we are looking for a general idea of how you will incorporate the AARP name/logo/message in your promotions.
For instance, if you’ll be installing a sign at the site of your project, it should include the AARP logo. If you'll be putting out press releases or social media posts, those should include verbiage about how the project was funded by AARP.
If your project is ultimately funded, you will design and secure your own signage or banners, but we’ll provide plenty of examples and guidance at that time. You may include funding to pay for this signage to your grant request and project budget. You will also be invited to coordinate publicity with your state office.
If the information you seek is not covered by these FAQs, please email us at CommunityChallenge@AARP.org.
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