AARP Community Challenge Grant application process closed

Posted on 03/05/24 by Ted Carey

We know that it takes time to build great communities. But we also believe that tangible improvements can spark long-term change. AARP launched the Community Challenge grant program in 2017 to fund projects that build momentum to improve livability nationwide. The program is back in 2024 for its eighth year and we accepted applications online through March 6th. The application process is now closed. We are reviewing applications. Grantees will be notified in late spring.

AARP Massachusetts 2023 Community Challenge Grantee La Colaborativa

The AARP Community Challenge’s focus on tangible projects, community engagement and its quick-action timeline helps selected grantees fast-track ideas and replicate promising practices. 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 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits and government entities. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands for larger projects. In 2024, the AARP Community Challenge is accepting applications across three different grant opportunities.

  • Flagship Grants
    This is AARP’s traditional, flagship Community Challenge grant program where grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. These grants will support projects that improve public places; transportation; housing; digital connections; community resilience; and community health and economic empowerment.
  • Capacity-Building Microgrants
    These $2,500 grants are combined with additional valuable resources, such as webinars, cohort learning opportunities, up to two hours of one-on-one coaching, and AARP publications. This grant opportunity will accept applications for projects that support Walk Audits, Bike Audits and HomeFit® Modifications.
  • Demonstration Grants
    Supporting demonstration efforts that encourage replication of promising local efforts, this grant opportunity will accept applications for digital connectivity to prepare for and respond to disasters; equitable engagement to reconnect communities; and housing choice design competitions.

“We are thrilled to open the AARP Community Challenge grant program once again and we encourage all eligible organizations to apply,” said Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts.  “Past grantees have made tangible improvements that spark long-term change in communities across Massachusetts.”

AARP 2024 Community Challenge Grants- Apply Now!

Since 2017, the AARP Community Challenge has funded over 1,370 projects nationwide, including 28 right here in Massachusetts. Last year, we awarded grant to projects that provided respite to caregivers, conducted walk audits to make streets safer to pedestrians of all ages and constructed meeting places for intergenerational conversations.

The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties across the country to become great places to live for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide residents of all ages, (especially people 50 and older) with safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities to participate in community life.

Full List of the impactful 2023 grantee projects:

  • Attleboro: Attleboro Norton YMCA: Free care will be provided to older adults living with Alzheimer's and other related dementias so their caregivers can exercise at the YMCA.
  • AARP MA 2023 Community Challenge Grantee Attleboro Norton YMCA
  • Bridgewater: Bridgewater Senior Center: A garden and outdoor activity area for older adults will be developed at the senior center with wheelchair-accessible raised gardening beds, grilling stations and outdoor seating.
  • Brookline: Brookline Council on AgingThe Town of Brookline is exploring on-demand transportation for all residents and in particular, its older residents. While the north part of Brookline is transit rich, the south part lacks public transit and accessible sidewalks. On-demand transportation increases access to the town for people without easy access to public transit. This project implements a pilot to demonstrate how better transportation options can create access to community resources for all low-to-moderate income residents of Brookline. The Brookline Council on Aging is also partnering with the Brookline Department of Public Health to conduct outreach in order to identify the residents most in need of this type of transportation option and will then provide transportation to two community events as part oft his project.
  • Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission: This project would provide educational workshops and supplies for small gardens, improving access to fresh and healthy food, increasing physical activity, stress relief, socialization, and cost savings for older Massachusetts residents. (Location: Auburn, Brimfield, Dudley, Oxford, Southbridge, and Webster)
  • Chelsea: La Colaborativa, Inc.  -La Plazita is being constructed to provide Chelsea residents age 50+ an indoor/outdoor activity space to gather, connect, celebrate and create community.
  • Clarksburg: Clarksburg Town Library- This project involves building a community gathering space within the town library. By installing new shelving, clearing floor space, and adding furniture, we will provide a place for our rural community, especially our seniors, to meet and interact year-round.
  • Dunstable: Town of DunstableThree walk audits in the town center will be conducted, with a focus on connections with public facilities, conservation trails and the small business community.
  • Greenfield: Friends of Franklin County Fairgrounds- This project consists of installing a stair lift to the second floor of the historic Roadhouse building allowing inclusive access for older adults and people with disabilities who frequent the building.
  • Lowell: Lowell Parks & Community TrustPrograms and outreach specifically for 50-plus residents and their families living in subsidized housing along the Greenway, raising awareness about this recently expanded green corridor through the heart of the city of Lowell. LP&CT proposes to host a regular series of activities every third Saturday of the month (rain date the following Saturday)- from June to November of 2023. Events would include guided walks, nature journaling, yoga, stewardship training, and other family-friendly programming.
  • Lynn: Bike to the SeaBike to the Sea will assess challenges older adults in Lynn face when accessing the shared-use Northern Strand Trail. The results will be used to advocate for change.
  • Northborough: Northborough Senior CenterThis project is creating an ADA-accessible trail with multiple rest locations and access points, connecting the Northborough Senior Center to the nearby open space/trail system, while offering social and recreational amenities for all generations.
  • Springfield: WalkMassachusettsA training program will be established to teach residents how to recognize hazardous conditions in their communities and advocate for changes to make streets safer for pedestrians
    AARP Massachusetts 2023 Community Challenge Grantee WalkMassachusetts
  • Taunton: Downtown Taunton FoundationThree walk audits will be conducted in Taunton to identify the best route for a three-mile walking path to encourage recreation, physical fitness and tourism.

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

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