The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. This year, applications will be accepted for projects to improve public spaces, housing, transportation and civic engagement; support diversity, equity and inclusion; build engagement for programs under new federal laws; and pursue innovative ideas that support people age 50 or older.
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: Project Examples
Attachment D: Guidance for Summaries and Deliverables
Impact Stories: How Challenge Grants Inspire Positive Change
Challenge Overview: A PDF of the information on this page
Challenge Home Page: AARP.org/CommunityChallenge
Important Dates in 2022
- January 25: Application window opened
- February 17: Webinar Q&A about completing the application
- March 22: Applications were due by 5 p.m. (ET)
- Mid-May: All applicants were notified by email of their status
- June 29: Public announcement of the selected grantees — and work on the projects begin!
- November 30: All funded projects must be completed
- December 31: Deadline for after-action reports
Applicants and others with questions can email CommunityChallenge@AARP.org.
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
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.
AARP will prioritize projects that support residents age 50 or over, are inclusive, address disparities, directly engage volunteers and 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
- Ensure a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion while improving the Built and Social Environment of a community
- Support communities’ efforts to Build Engagement and Leverage Funding available under new federal programs through laws including the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and more
- Increase Civic Engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion
- Other community improvements, including Health Services, Community Development, and Coronavirus Pandemic Recovery
AARP Community Challenge grants can be used to support:
- Permanent physical improvements in the community
- Temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change
- New, innovative programming or services
The project types described above will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events. See Attachment C for examples from previous AARP Community Challenge funded projects.
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 by the AARP Community Challenge was $50,000.
Grant Selection Process
- 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 that 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 age 50-plus.
- Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements
- Applications must be submitted through the online application form (see the box above) with all pertinent information by Tuesday, March 22, 2022, 5 p.m. (ET)
- Incomplete applications will not be reviewed
Grant recipients and unselected applicants will be notified by email in May 2022. Grantees must execute and email a binding Memorandum of Understanding and completed vendor forms to AARP by Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Noncompliance with this deadline may result in disqualification or delayed funding.
Submission Terms and Conditions
If you submit this application, 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.
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.
- 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.
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