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Each community — depending on its size, resources, socioeconomic conditions and cultural diversity — is going to have different ways of approaching the opportunity to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

To determine if a particular community should begin the process of joining the network, AARP state office staff will consider a variety of factors related to a community’s leadership and overall readiness.  For instance:

  • Is there political acceptance — from elected leaders (the mayor, city or town council members) and buy-in from community stakeholders — that age-friendly improvements are needed?

  • Is the community currently involved in a public project or initiative? Encouraging a community to think about how it will incorporate projects into existing funded projects or future capital expenditures can help address financial concerns. It’s also important to assess the community’s capacity and political will to actually take action, not just conduct studies or develop plans.

Other examples of leadership or readiness include:

  • An elected official raises concerns about the community’s preparedness for its aging population

  • Existing non-governmental organizations or grassroots activism organizations are championing the issue

  • The community is a grant recipient from, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Safe Routes to School, local foundations, etc.