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Support for "quick action" projects that help make communities more livable for everyone

The application period for the 2020 AARP Community Challenge is open!

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund "quick-action" projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications are being accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology ("smart cities"), civic engagement and more.

Important Dates

  • April 1, 2020: Applications are due by 11:59 pm (ET)
  • May 26, 2020: Applicants will be notified of their status this week
  • July 15, 2020: The selected grantees will be announced to the public — and the project work can begin — on or around this date
  • November 9, 2020: All funded projects must be completed 
  • December 11, 2020: Deadline for after-action reports 


The program is open to the following types of programs:

  • 501(C)(3), 501(C)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits 
  • Government entities
  • Other types of organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis

The following projects are NOT eligible for funding:

  • Partisan, political or election-related activities
  • Planning activities and assessments and surveys of communities
  • Studies with no follow-up action
  • Publication of books or reports
  • Acquisition of land and/or buildings
  • 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

Community Criteria

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.

Acceptable Projects

AARP will prioritize projects that aim to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Increasing civic engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of community inclusion and diversity. (Although this category is targeted to local governments, nonprofit organizations can apply for and receive a grant in this category provided they demonstrate that they are working with local governments to solicit and include residents’ insights about the project or to help solve a pressing challenge.)
  • 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, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
  • Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.
  • Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” with programs that engage residents in accessing, understanding and using data, and participating in decision-making to increase the quality of life for all.
  • Other community improvements: In addition to the five areas of focus, AARP wants to hear about local needs and new, innovative ideas for addressing them.

Project Types

AARP Community Challenge grants can be used to support the following types of projects:

  • Permanent physical improvements in the community
  • Temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change
  • New, innovative programming or services

These project types will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events.

Grant Amount

If your idea is big, no project is too small!

Grants can range from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects.

Grant Selection Process

Grant recipients will be selected by an AARP panel of experts on aging, community development and livable communities. Projects will be judged on the degree to which their goals make an immediate change that leads to longer-term impact in a manner that meets all other selection criteria.

Threshold Criteria (must meet the following criteria to be considered):

  • All items in the grant application have been addressed (or noted if not applicable).
  • The grant is NOT used for partisan, political or election related activities, or property acquisition.
  • The grant is NOT used to promote a for-profit or its products and/or services.
  • The grant is for one of the uses in the Project Details section of the application.

Assessment Criteria:

  • Impact (45 points): The proposed project addresses a clear need that brings positive change to the community and effectively engages residents. The project also demonstrates the ability to accelerate, grow and/or sustain the community’s livability for all, especially those 50 plus.
  • Execution (40 points): Applicants demonstrate capacity to deliver the AARP Community Challenge project on time and within the awarded budget, as well as show that the project will effectively leverage volunteers.
  • Innovation (15 points): The project demonstrates creativity, aesthetic beauty, unusual design or engagement elements, and/or the potential to spark additional community change.

AARP reserves the right to make funding decisions based on other criteria, in addition to those described herein.

    Application Requirements

    • Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements.
    • Applications must be submitted through the online application form (available during the application period via AARP.org/CommunityChallenge) with all pertinent information.
    • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

    Link to complete RFP

    Post date: Feb 7 2020 - 10:59am
    Deadline: Apr 1 2020
    Program Interest: Community and economic development, Community improvement, Community Development

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