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The 2021 AARP Community Challenge

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

The application period for the 2021 AARP Community Challenge is now open!

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 are accepted for projects to improve public spaces, housing, transportation, civic engagement, coronavirus recovery, diversity and inclusion, and more. After reading the information below, click the yellow button to apply.

Click here to apply

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

Attachment A: Sample Online Application

Attachment B: Sample 'After-Action' Report

Attachment C: Examples of Projects by Category

Attachment D: Guidance for Summaries and Deliverables

Impact Stories: How Challenge Grants Inspire Positive Change

FAQs: Challenge Questions Answered

Challenge Overview: A PDF of the information on this page

Challenge Home Page: AARP.org/CommunityChallenge

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Important Dates

  • April 14, 2021: Applications are due by 8:00 pm (ET)
  • June 2021: All applicants will be notified of their status by email
  • July 14, 2021: MOU (memorandum of understanding) and vendor forms to be completed and returned by grantees
  • July 28, 2021 (tentative): Public announcement of selected grantees — work on the projects may begin
  • November 10, 2021: All funded projects must be completed 
  • December 8, 2021: Deadline for after-action reports 

Applicants and others with questions can email CommunityChallenge@AARP.org.


Eligibility

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 without tangible engagement
  • Studies with no follow-up action
  • Publication of books or reports
  • Acquisition of land and/or buildings or a vehicle purchase
  • 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 deliver inclusive solutions that meet the needs of diverse populations, as well as those that directly engage volunteers through permanent or temporary solutions that aim to achieve one or more of the following outcome areas:

  • 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 a range of Housing options that increases the availability of accessible and affordable choices

  • Increase Civic Engagement and demonstrate the tangible value ofSmart Cities” with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion

  • Support local recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic with an emphasis on economic development, improvements to public spaces and transportation services

  • Ensure a focus on Diversity and Inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community

  • Other community improvements. In addition to these areas of focus, AARP wants to hear about local needs and innovative ideas for addressing them

Project Types:

  • 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.

See Attachment C for specific examples from previous AARP Community Challenge funded projects.


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 (65 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 all (especially people 50+), and/or focuses on diversity and inclusion. 

  • Execution (25 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 50+ volunteers) in the execution.

  • Innovation (10 points): The project demonstrates creativity or unique design or engagement elements which will contribute to its impact.

In addition to the criteria provided, AARP will also evaluate each project based on its consistency with the AARP mission.

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 AARP.org/CommunityChallenge) with all pertinent information by April 14, 8:00 pm ET

  • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed

Notification

Grant recipients and unselected applications will be notified by email in June 2021. Grantees will receive documents and must execute and email a binding Memorandum of Understanding and completed vendor forms to AARP by July 14, 2021. 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 applicants 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.ll 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.