AARP Oklahoma invites community organizations and local governments across the state to apply for the 2021 Community Challenge grant program. The application deadline is April 14, 2021. Grants fund quick-action projects ranging from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands for larger projects. Now in its fifth 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 for people of all ages. “We are thrilled to bring this grant opportunity back to Oklahoma in 2021, and we encourage all eligible organizations to apply,” said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma state director. “We’ve seen great results from the Community Challenge grant program in communities across Oklahoma. This year we are increasing our support for projects that focus on diversity and inclusion and aid in local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.” Since 2017, AARP has awarded 560 grants – including seven in Oklahoma – 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. The program provides direct support to all community types, with nearly 40% of past projects benefitting rural communities, 20% going to suburban locations and 40% improving urban places. Granted projects have demonstrated an ability to help garner additional funds or support from public and private funders, encourage replication and overcome local policy barriers, and receive greater overall awareness and engagement. AARP will prioritize projects that deliver inclusive solutions that meet the needs of diverse populations, as well as those that directly engage volunteers through permanent or temporary solutions that aim to achieve one or more of the following outcomes: • 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 increase the availability of accessible and affordable options.
• Increase civic engagement and demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
• Support local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, emphasizing economic development, improvements to public spaces, and transportation services.
• Ensure a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
• Other community improvements. In addition, AARP wants to hear about local needs and new, innovative ideas for addressing them.
The Community Challenge is open to 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits and government entities. Other types of organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Last year, Oklahoma grantees included the city of Grove, Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), Main Street Enid, Inc. and Fairview Regional Medical Center Authority. The city of Grove’s project installed pedestrian-controlled crosswalk signals with flashing beacons to enhance public safety, improve the downtown area’s walkability, and provide safer access to the community’s senior center. In partnership with This Machine Tulsa Bike Share, INCOG piloted a free food delivery service in Tulsa to improve access to healthy food and strengthen community partnerships. Main Street Enid, Inc. installed traffic calming elements and crosswalks painted by local artists to improve downtown Enid’s walkability and safety. The Fairview Regional Medical Center Authority used grant funding to monitor remotely cardiac rehabilitation for people with recent cardiac events and have low to moderate risk of complications at home. The application deadline is 8 p.m. Eastern Time, April 14, 2021, and all projects must be completed by Nov. 10, 2021.
To submit an application and view past grantees, visit www.AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.