We know that it takes time to build great communities. We also believe that tangible improvements can spark long-term change. The AARP Community Challenge launched in 2017 to fund projects that build momentum to improve livability for all. We are excited to announce the program is back in 2021 for its fifth year and is currently accepting applications online through April 14 (5 p.m. PT).
The AARP Community Challenge’s focus on tangible projects and community engagement, and its “quick action” timeline, helps selected grantees fast-track their ideas and replicate promising practices. Some previous projects have demonstrated an ability to garner additional funds or support from public and private funders, encourage innovation, overcome local policy barriers, and receive greater overall awareness and engagement.
The grant program is open to 501c3, 501c4, and 501c6 nonprofits and government entities. Other types of organizations are considered on a case-by-case basis. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands for larger 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 outcomes:
- Creating vibrant public places and improving open spaces, parks, and access to other amenities.
- Delivering a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
- Supporting a range of housing options that increase the availability of accessible and affordable choices.
- Increasing civic engagement and demonstrating the tangible value of “Smart Cities” with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
- Supporting local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic with an emphasis on economic development, improvements to public spaces, and transportation services.
- Ensuring a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
- Other innovative projects to improve the community.
In addition to these areas of focus, AARP wants to hear about local needs and innovative ideas for addressing them.
We are thrilled to bring this grant opportunity back to Washington in 2021 and we encourage all eligible organizations to apply. We’ve seen great results from the AARP Community Challenge grant program supporting communities across Washington as they make tangible improvements that spark long-term change.
Since 2017, the Community Challenge has funded 560 projects nationwide, including 12 right here in Washington. You can view an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP Washington’s livable communities work at aarp.org/livable.
The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, and states across the country to become great places to live for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.
The application deadline for the 2021 grant cycle is April 14 at 5 p.m. PT. All projects must be completed by November 10, 2021.
AARP Community Challenge Grants in King County
King County: International Community Health Services (2020): To help community members overcome technological barriers during the pandemic, culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach materials were created to help patients learn how to stay connected to their health care team through patient portals, telehealth, and virtual classes.
Seattle: Pike Market Food Bank (2019): This project helped spruce up the Pike Market Food Bank with directional signage, making it easier for individuals with disabilities and hundreds of low-income and senior residents to access the space.
Seattle: Pike Place Market Foundation (2019): This bountiful volunteer-run space that provides produce to the Pike Market Food Bank was upgraded to increase its capacity for production and made more accessible for all.
Seattle: Rebuilding Together Seattle (2019): Three key projects improved the Southeast Seattle Senior Center’s visibility, increased ADA-compliant parking, and engaged and connected a diverse range of community members. Website
Seattle: Sound Generations (2019): Sound Generations partnered with Hopelink on educational efforts to help those in need understand and access a variety of transportation options, which increased independence and mobility leading to enhanced social engagement. Website
Seattle: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (2018): Traffic calming measures were installed, including planter boxes, artistic crosswalks, wayfinding signs, and other placemaking amenities chosen by community members during outreach efforts at neighborhood potluck dinners. Website
Renton: City of Renton (2017): A pop-up event celebrated National PARK(ing) Day by transforming a parking spot into a temporary public gathering space. Pop-Up Downtown
Seattle: City of Seattle (2017): A hackathon called A City for All was held to coincide with the National Day for Civic Hacking. The event helped participants learn about age-friendly initiatives and related issues. Video | AgeWise article