2022 Community Challenge grantees announced!

Posted on 06/29/22

AARP Awards Grants to Five Alaska Organizations as Part of its Nationwide Program to Make Communities More Livable

2022 Community Challenge grantee Wasilla Area Seniors Inc. speaks to the importance of the grant to their work improving quality of life for seniors.

Anchorage, AK Today, AARP Alaska that announced five organizations throughout the state will receive 2022 Community Challenge grants – part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.4 million awarded among 260 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable in the long-term by improving public places; transportation; housing; diversity, equity and inclusion; digital access; and civic engagement, with an emphasis on the needs of adults age 50 and over.

“The Community Challenge grant program allows AARP Alaska to support communities and Alaskans 50+ across our state. Since 2017, AARP Alaska has awarded 14 grants and $137,972 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities in Alaska,” said state director Teresa Holt. “The 2022 grantees will improve quality of life for seniors, address food insecurity, and honor our state and our nation’s history.”  

Here in Alaska, projects funded include:

The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) will complete necessary renovations to the greenhouse on St. George island, including installation of outdoor seating, worktables, and accessibility improvements. St. George is one of 13 remote tribal communities served by APIA, accessible only by boat or small airplane. Due to the region’s conditions and remoteness, produce in community stores is usually scarce, expensive, and partly spoiled, increasing the importance of community greenhouses. APIA hopes to expand on successes seen on the island of Nicholski, where residents now report buying only about 25% of their food because of fresh food access from a flourishing community greenhouse.

The Anchorage Navy League Council 151 will partner with the Armed Services YMCA and the Captain Cook Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America to install a Sea Services Memorial recognizing the long history of service by the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in Alaska. The Memorial at the existing USS ANCHORAGE Anchor site at the Port of Alaska will recognize the two USS ANCHORAGEs, their global defense and humanitarian roles, the US Coast Guard Alaska, and the Navy's role in Dutch Harbor and the Aleutian Islands during WWII. The Memorial will add to the tourist and local interest for the Navy sailors, Marines, and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as those interested in WWII.

The Thane Community Garden Association will create an accessible community garden to host neighborly interactions, formal workshops, and outdoor education classes. The community challenge grant will support land preparation, clean-up, and clearing, construction of garden boxes, fencing, a hoop house, and an irrigation system. The Association includes age 50+ horticulturalists, landscapers, educators, and gardeners who feel it's time to share experience, skills, and knowledge collected over a lifetime. The effort will additionally address the need for food security in Juneau and Thane by offsetting the need for food barged from Seattle. 

The Valdez Adventure Alliance will complete needed improvements to Valdez’s Shoup Bay Trail, a favorite local trail impacted by ruts, mud holes, and a broken access bridge.  Their project will level and landscape the trailhead and install benches to make the trail safe and accessible for all, including those with limited mobility, walkers, or motorized wheelchairs, as well as families with strollers and toddlers. The Valdez Adventure Alliance will partner with the Valdez Senior Center to install a trailhead sign and two bench plaques. This project will improve life for Valdez residents, especially for those 50+, by modifying a favorite trail to accommodate limited mobility (from strollers to e-wheelchairs), leading to increased interaction and outdoor recreation for community members of all ages and abilities.

Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc. (WASI) is continuing their focus on creating a safe outdoor space on their campus where seniors can walk and enjoy the outdoors. They plan to purchase and install nine benches and 22 raised planters to increase aesthetic appeal and encourage engagement among the senior population. The additional resources will build on the success of previous outdoor projects, giving seniors a reason to get outdoors, challenges to solve, and reasons to rejoice.

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages.

View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at aarp.org/communitychallenge and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at aarp.org/livable.

This story is provided by AARP Alaska. Visit the AARP Alaska page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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