Lansing, MI - AARP Michigan has announced six organizations throughout the state will receive 2023 Community Challenge grants – part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.6 million awarded among 310 organizations nationwide.
Grantees will implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places; transportation; housing; digital connections; diversity, equity and inclusion; and more, with an emphasis on the needs of adults aged 50 and older.
“AARP Michigan is committed to working with local leaders to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes,” said AARP Michigan State Director Paula D. Cunningham. “We are proud to collaborate with this year’s grantees as they make immediate improvements in their communities to jumpstart long-term change, especially for Michiganders 50 and over.”
Here in Michigan, projects funded include:
Grow Jackson (City of Jackson) – Awarded $2,500 under the Community Gardening grant category to enhance a community garden at the MLK Jr. Center. The grant will be used to implement educational programming for older adults on topics including nutrition and fresh food, gardening, food saving skills and intergenerational time.
Motown Glory Partners Community Development Corporation (Detroit) – Awarded $2,500 under the Walkability grant category for the purpose of enhancing safety and walkability for residents. Funding will be used to audit walking routes, especially those where older residents are at particular risk. Audits will assess damaged sidewalks and flooding areas, safety signage, lighting, and dangerous building structures.
Chaldean Community Foundation (Sterling Heights) – Awarded $15,000 under the Community Health and Economic Empowerment grant category to provide classes that support the efforts and wellbeing of older adult caregivers who have limited English skills. Class topics will include nutrition, identifying depression, managing stress, financial literacy, exercise and sleep, bathing and shaving, dressing and grooming, dental care, proper body mechanics for moving or lifting a person, and more.
Dwelling Place (Grand Rapids) – Awarded $6,530 under the Public Places grant category for the creation of an accessible community greenhouse for the residents of the Reflections Apartments, a senior housing community for those 62 and older. Designed by graduate architecture students and residents from the apartments, the greenhouse will expand the growing season of the current community garden and permanently improve livability for residents.
Lansing Parks and Recreation – Awarded $21,000 under the Community Health and Economic Empowerment grant category to create a senior fitness membership for residents aged 60 and older. This membership will include access to a fitness center, drop-in activities and an instructor-led fitness and nutrition classes.
Veterans Heroes Center (Gratiot County) – Awarded $5,716 under the Digital Connections grant category to provide Wi-Fi access and establish a computer lab with a printer, tables and chairs for military veterans and their families. The computer lab will also provide veterans and their families access to WIFI which is especially needed by those residing in rural areas where WIFI is not available. Gratiot County is home to 2,200 veterans including 1,083 over the age of 50.
AARP Community Challenge grant projects will be funded in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. True to the program’s quick-action nature, projects must be completed by November 30, 2023.
This year, the AARP Community Challenge accepted applications across three different grant opportunities, including existing flagship grants in addition to new capacity-building microgrants for improving walkability and community gardens. New demonstration grants will focus on improving transportation systems, with funding support provided by Toyota Motor North America, and housing choice design competitions.
AARP is also bolstering its investment in rural communities, mobility innovation, transportation options, and health and food access.
“These grants continue to lead to long-term, positive changes in communities across the country,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “This year, we are proud to support the largest number of projects in the program’s seven-year history, which will improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes so everyone can thrive as they age.”
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 for people of all ages, especially those age 50 and older. Since 2017, AARP Michigan has awarded 24 grants and $344,729 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state.