(Wyoming) – AARP Wyoming invites local organizations and governments across the state to apply for the 2022 AARP Community Challenge grant program, now through March 22, 2022.
Grants fund quick-action projects that help communities become more livable in the long-term by improving public spaces, transportation, housing, civic engagement, coronavirus recovery, diversity and inclusion, and more.
In past years AARP has funded several projects that directly benefit and support the Veterans and Military families community. Now in its sixth year, the 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.
The application deadline is 5:00 pm ET, March 22, 2022. All projects must be completed by November 30, 2022. To submit an application and view past grantees, visit www.AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.
Grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Since 2017, the average grant amount is $11,500. The largest grant that has been awarded under the Community Challenge is $50,000.
Since its inception in 2017, AARP has awarded over 800 grants – including 10 in Wyoming – through the Community Challenge to nonprofit organizations and government entities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In Wyoming, the program has been especially popular as 31 different organizations applied for funding in the 2021 grant cycle.
“The Community Challenge Grant has been an exciting project for us since 2017,” says AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway. “Last year we had 31 applications that show Wyomingites’ vision for a future that includes livable communities.”
About the Grant:
AARP will prioritize proposals that support residents age 50 and over, are inclusive, address disparities, directly engage volunteers and aim to achieve one or more of the following outcomes for all residents, especially people age 50 and older::
- Support communities’ efforts to build engagement and leverage funding available under new federal programs through laws like the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and more.
- 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 a range of housing options that increases the availability of accessible and affordable choices.
- Ensure a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
- Increase civic engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
- Other community improvements; including health services, community development, and coronavirus pandemic recovery.
The Community Challenge is open to 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits and government entities. There is a special emphasis placed on projects that directly benefit and support the Veterans and Military Families community. 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 tens of thousands for larger projects.
Past Community Challenge Grant Awards:
The Town of Wheatland received $28,000 from AARP in 2021, which is used to construct pickleball courts at Lewis Park on Eighth Street in Wheatland. According to Wheatland officials, there are better than 100 pickleball players in town, ranging in age from 20 to 83. That group struggled to find a place to play last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wheatland used its grant funding to repurpose an underutilized area of the City Park. The community removed seven horseshoe pits (leaving five) and replaced them with two outdoor pickleball courts in an area with existing lighting, adjacent to existing restrooms.
In 2021, Evanston Main Street’s $12,550 grant went towards improving public spaces in downtown, as the Urban Renewal Agency plans to increase outdoor seating with the construction of two swing picnic tables, which will be placed in separate public gathering places.
One side of the picnic tables will be a solid bench, while the other side will have swings with the ends being open to allow for wheelchair accessibility. The second deliverable for the grant will be the addition of decorative crosswalks across Main Street. The crosswalks will bookend the area where the two swinging picnic tables will reside.
The Jackson Hole Land Trust was awarded a $10,250 grant from AARP in 2020 to provide benches in downtown Jackson. The Land Trust will partner with local artists and AARP’s Age Friendly Jackson, to purchase and install at least three locally-made benches. The benches will be located on The Block, a 1.3 acre of downtown greenspace that was recently preserved by the Land Trust. The Block will also include 100-year-old Cottonwood trees, ADA pathways through the greenspace. The Block is on the same street as a local assisted living center, and one block from the Jackson Town Square.
The Cokeville Senior Citizens Center is receiving $25,000 in 2020 Challenge Grant funds to improve walkability as well as the ability for citizens to access the town’s Senior Center. The grant is part of nearly $47,000 in community improvements, which will also include increasing access to the Cokeville City Park’s pavilion and restrooms, by adding ramps to each. The Cokeville project will include improvements to crumbling concrete, the addition of ramps, and replacement of a raised deck in the courtyard at the Senior Center, which will allow those with wheelchairs, walkers, or canes to take part in outdoor activities at the center.
In 2019, The North Main Street Association in Sheridan was granted $11,700 to fund a new gazebo, picnic table and nine benches along the North Main Trail. Meanwhile, The Jackson Hole Community Pathways project was awarded a $14,440 grant to help make downtown Jackson a more enjoyable space for the age 50+. Jackson Hole Community Pathways used the money on a design workshop to solicit input from those age 50 and over on downtown walkability, amenities, and activities. Pathways is also coordinating with Cycling Without Age and Teton Adaptive Sports for two Trishaw bikes that will provide rides to seniors around town.
In 2018, AARP’s Community Challenge program funded projects in Laramie and Rock Springs. In Laramie, a grant of $20,000 to fund a new fully accessible community garden to increase access to healthy food, multi-generational learning opportunities, and support a culture of health for all people living with mobility and disability challenges. In Rock Springs, a $5,000 grant has funded a mural to be prominently displayed in Downtown Rock Springs, which will depict the hard work and sacrifices of local miners and railroad workers.
In 2017, two Wyoming communities – Casper and Jackson – were awarded Community Challenge Grants. In Casper, the grant provided a safer and more convenient bus stop behind the city’s east side Albertsons at 2625 East Second Street. In Jackson, a similar bus stop was replaced in an area that was cluttered with weeds, a broken down vehicle and other trash in an underserved area of the community. A bench was placed on the site and age-friendly signage entices low-income seniors, disabled individuals, and young families to use the bus system.
The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.