2023 AARP Community Challenge
The application period is now closed. The selected grantees will be announced in June!
The following downloadable materials are recommended reading before starting the application process. The application must be submitted through the online portal.
Attachment A: Sample Grant 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
FAQs: Challenge Questions Answered (webpage) or (PDF)
Challenge Overview: A PDF of the information on this page
Challenge Home Page: AARP.org/CommunityChallenge
VIDEO: February 8 Q&A Webinar
See more videos about the 2023 AARP Community Challenge
Use this YouTube link to share the "Q&A Webinar" video.
The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. In 2023, the AARP Community Challenge accepted applications across three different grant opportunities, two of which were new.
Important Dates in 2023
- January 18: Application window opens
- February 8: AARP Q&A Webinar at 2 p.m. (EST) Watch the recording.
- February 14: Webinar with America Walks: The Walk Audit: An Effective Tool for Community Change at 2 p.m. (EST) Click here to learn more. Watch the recording.
- February 16: Webinar with 8 80 Cities: Community Gardens: A Tool for Growing Community Change at 2 p.m. (EST) Click here to learn more. Watch the recording.
- March 15: Applications were due by 5 p.m. (ET)
- Mid-May: All applicants will be notified by email of their status
- June 28: 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 look at the Frequently Asked Questions or email CommunityChallenge@AARP.org.
In 2023, the AARP Community Challenge accepted applications across three different grant opportunities, two of which were new this year. (See Attachment C for examples of previous AARP Community Challenge funded projects.) Organizations were eligible to apply for more than one grant opportunity and could submit multiple applications.
1. Flagship Grants
The flagship AARP Community Challenge grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Since 2017, AARP has funded projects ranging from $500 to $50,000 with an average grant amount of $11,900 (83 percent of grants have been under $20,000.) AARP reserves the right to award compelling projects of any dollar amount.
In 2023, we accepted applications for projects that benefit residents — especially those age 50 and older. Projects could:
- 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, and access to public and private transit
- Support 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;
- Increase digital connections by expanding high-speed internet and enhancing digital literacy skills of residents
- Support community resilience through investments that improve disaster management, preparedness and mitigation for residents
- 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
- Improve community health and economic empowerment in support of financial well-being and improved health outcomes
2. NEW! Capacity-Building Microgrants
By combining $2,500 grants with additional resources — such as webinars, AARP Livable Communities publications, cohort learning opportunities and/or up to two hours of one-on-one coaching with leading national organizations — this new grant opportunity benefits residents (especially those age 50 or older) in the following categories:
- Walkability: Implement a walk audit to assess and enhance the safety and walkability of a street or neighborhood with support from America Walks, using the AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit.
- Community Gardens: Start or enhance a community garden with support from 880 Cities, using the new AARP publication Creating Community Gardens for People of All Ages.
3. NEW! Demonstration Grants
By supporting demonstration efforts that encourage the replication of promising local efforts, this new grant opportunity benefits residents (especially those age 50 and older) by:
- Advancing solutions that build capacity towards transportation systems change. This opportunity for grant funding of approximately $30,000 to $50,000 per project is sponsored by Toyota Motor North America.
- Implementing accessory dwelling unit (ADU) design competitions that increase public understanding of this housing option and encourage the implementation of ADU supportive policies. This opportunity for grant funding will provide approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per project.
Each project must satisfy the guidelines as described in the Grant Opportunities section above as well as in the following three criteria:
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 a vehicle (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
1. Organization Type:
The AARP Community Challenge 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. (Funds will not be provided to any for-profit company, nor individuals. However, AARP does allow for IRS recognized 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) tax-exempt non-profit organizations or government entities to serve as fiscal sponsors of grants.)
2. Project Type:
AARP Community Challenge grants may be used to support three project types. Project types described below will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events.
- Permanent physical improvements in the community
- Temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change
- New, innovative programming pilots or services
3. Mission Focus:
AARP evaluates each project based on its consistency with the AARP mission to serve the needs of people 50-plus.
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.
Grant Selection Process
Grant recipients are selected by an AARP panel of experts on aging, community development and livable communities. Projects are judged on the degree to which their goals make an immediate change that leads to longer-term impact and meet all other selection criteria.
- 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 Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 5 p.m. (ET)
- Incomplete applications will not be reviewed
Grant recipients and unselected applicants will be notified by email in May 2023. Grantees must execute and email a binding Memorandum of Understanding and completed vendor forms to AARP by Wednesday, June 14, 2023. 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 submission and evaluation of your organization’s application.
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.
- The organization agrees to carry and maintain comprehensive general liability and professional liability 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.
- 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.
- Questions? Please email CommunityChallenge@AARP.org
Page published January 18, 2023. Updated March 15, 2023.
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