Skip to content

The 2020 AARP Community Challenge

Learn about the details and deadlines for this year's "quick-action" grant program

The application period for the 2020 AARP Community Challenge is now closed.

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund "quick-action" projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications were accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology ("smart cities"), civic engagement and more — all while keeping communities safe and healthy during the global coronavirus pandemic.

AARP Community Challenge

The following downloadable materials were recommended reading before starting the application process.



Important Dates

  • May 15, 2020: Applications were due by 11:59 pm (ET)
  • Week of July 6: Applicants will be notified of their status this week
  • August 20: The selected grantees will be announced to the public — and the project work can begin 
  • December 18: All funded projects must be completed 
  • January 31, 2021: Deadline for after-action reports 

Applicants and others with questions can email


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

Community Criteria

Although communities that belong to the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities are encouraged to apply, projects that benefit any community and satisfy all other criteria are eligible for consideration.

Acceptable Projects

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

  • Increasing civic engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of community inclusion and diversity. (Although this category is targeted to local governments, nonprofit organizations can apply for and receive a grant in this category provided they demonstrate that they are working with local governments to solicit and include residents’ insights about the project or to help solve a pressing challenge.)

  • Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.

  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
  • Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.

  • Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” with programs that engage residents in accessing, understanding and using data, and participating in decision-making to increase the quality of life for all.

  • Other community improvements: In addition to the five areas of focus, AARP wants to hear about local needs and new, innovative ideas for addressing them, especially during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Project Types

AARP Community Challenge grants can be used to support the following types of projects:

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

These project types will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events.

Grant Amount

If your idea is big, no project is too small!

Grants can range from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects.

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.

Assessment Criteria:

  • Impact (45 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 (40 points): Applicants demonstrate capacity to deliver the AARP Community Challenge project on time and within the awarded budget, as well as show that the project will effectively leverage volunteers.

  • 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 a date to be provided to the grantees. Noncompliance with this time period may result in disqualification or delayed funding.

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 is 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.


Our Free Publications!

See the complete list at

Follow Us

Contact Us

  • Email AARP Livable Communities at

  • Ask about the AARP Livability Index by completing this online form.

  • AARP Members: For questions about your benefits, AARP The Magazine or the AARP Bulletin, visit the AARP Contact Us page or call 1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277).