Learn about our quick-action grant program — and apply by March 6, 2024, 5 p.m. (ET) / 2 p.m. (PT)
AARP Livable Communities
The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. In 2024, the AARP Community Challenge will be accepting applications for three different grant opportunities, each described below in the "Grant Opportunities" section.
Please read this entire page — as well as the materials in the "Preparing the Application" section — to learn about the different grant opportunities and how to apply.
January 10: Application window opens.
January 31: Q&A Webinar 2 p.m. (ET) / 11 a.m. (PT) — Watch the recording and other videos about the 2024 AARP Community Challenge.
March 6: Application deadline 5 p.m. (ET) / 2 p.m. (PT) — Apply here.
Mid-May: Applicants will be notified by email of their selection status.
June 12: Deadline for grantees to return their completed MOU (memorandum of understanding) and vendor forms.
June 26: Live public announcement of the selected grantees — and work on the projects begin!
December 15: All projects must be completed.
December 31: Deadline for after-action reports.
Applicants and others with questions can look at the Frequently Asked Questions or email CommunityChallenge@AARP.org.
In 2024, the AARP Community Challenge is accepting applications across three different grant opportunities. Each opportunity will receive a consistent approach to scoring (see the Scoring section below).
1. Flagship Grants
In AARP’s flagship Community Challenge grant program, grants have ranged from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Since 2017, AARP has funded projects ranging from $500 to $50,000 with an average grant amount of $11,900 (83 percent of grants have been under $20,000). AARP also reserves the right to award compelling projects of any dollar amount. We are accepting applications for projects that benefit residents — especially those age 50 and older — in the following categories:
Creating vibrant Public Places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities;
Delivering a range of Transportation and Mobility Options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability and access to public and private transit;
Supporting a range of Housing options that increases the availability of accessible and affordable choices;
Increasing Digital Connections by expanding high-speed internet and enhancing digital literacy skills of residents;
Supporting Community Resilience through investments that improve disaster management, preparedness and mitigation for residents;
Improving Community Health and Economic Empowerment to support residents’ financial well-being and improve health outcomes.
2. Capacity-Building Microgrants
Combining $2,500 grants with additional resources — such as webinars, cohort learning opportunities, up to two hours of one-on-one coaching with leading national organizations and AARP publications — this grant opportunity will accept applications for projects that benefit residents (especially those age 50 and older) in the following categories:
NEW! Bike Audits: Implement bike audit assessments to enhance safety and bikeability in communities (especially for people age 50-plus), with support from League of American Bicyclists and using the AARP Bike Audit Tool Kit.
NEW! HomeFit® Modifications: Implement education, simple home modifications and/or easy home safety and accessibility solutions to make "lifelong homes" (especially for people age 50-plus), with support from the RL Mace Universal Design Institute and using the AARP HomeFit Guide.
Walk Audits: Implement walk audit assessments to enhance safety and walkability in communities (especially for people age 50-plus), with support from America Walks and using the AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit.
3. Demonstration Grants
This grant opportunity supports projects that encourage the replication of promising efforts that benefit residents (especially those age 50 and older). While there is not a defined budget range for this category, similar projects have tended to fall between $10,000 and $20,000 and will not exceed $50,000. Applications will be accepted in the following categories:
NEW! Enhancing digital connectivity to prepare and respond to disasters for residents (especially those age 50-plus), the importance of which is discussed in the AARP Disaster Resilience Tool Kit.
NEW! Facilitating equitable engagement to reconnect communities that have been divided by infrastructure (with a focus on people age 50-plus), as highlighted in AARP's award-winning "Before the Highway," article series.
Implementing housing choice design competitions that increase community understanding of the benefits of a variety of housing options including accessory dwelling units, Missing Middle Housing, tiny homes and other housing solutions (especially for people age 50-plus), and encourage implementation of policies that enable greater choice in housing.
See Attachment C for examples from previous AARP Community Challenge-funded projects.
Eligible organizations may apply for more than one grant opportunity and may submit multiple applications.
Each project must satisfy the guidelines as described in the GRANT OPPORTUNITIES section above and the following Organization Type, Mission Focus and Project Type criteria to be eligible:
The following projects are NOT eligible for funding:
Partisan, political or election-related activities
Planning activities and assessments and surveys of communities without tangible engagement
Studies with no follow-up action
Publication of books or reports
Acquisition of land and/or buildings
Purchase of a vehicle (such as a car or truck)
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
1. Organization Type:
The program is open to the following types of organizations:
501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits (Nonprofit organizations must be recognized by the IRS to receive funds.)
Other types of organizations considered on a case-by-case basis. (Funds will not be provided to any for-profit company, nor individuals. However, AARP does allow for IRS recognized 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) tax-exempt nonprofit organizations or government entities to serve as fiscal sponsors of grants.)
2. Mission Focus:
AARP evaluates each project based on its consistency with the AARP mission to serve the needs of people 50-plus.
3. Project Type:
AARP Community Challenge grants may be used to support three project types. Project types described below will be prioritized over those that support ongoing programming or events.
Permanent physical improvements in the community
Temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change
New, innovative programming pilots or services
Grant Selection Process
Grant recipients are selected by an AARP panel of experts on aging, community development and livable communities. Projects are judged on the degree to which their goals make an immediate change that leads to longer-term impact and meet all other selection criteria.
Eligible projects will be assessed on:
IMPACT (45 points) – The project addresses a clear need that brings positive change and demonstrates the ability to overcome barriers and accelerate, grow and/or sustain the community’s efforts to become more livable for residents (especially those age 50 and older).
EXECUTION (30 points) – Applicants demonstrate capacity to deliver the AARP Community Challenge project on time and within the awarded budget, effectively engage residents and key stakeholders, and leverage volunteers (especially those age 50 and older) in the execution.
ADDRESSING DISPARITIES (15 points) – The project addresses disparities for people of color and/or other historically marginalized groups, including community members of all ages (especially those age 50 and older), abilities, incomes, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities and other backgrounds.
INNOVATION (10 points) – The project demonstrates creativity or unique design or engagement elements which will contribute to its impact on residents (especially those age 50 and older).
In addition to the criteria provided, AARP will also evaluate each project based on its consistency with the AARP mission to serve the needs of people age 50-plus.
Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements
Applications must be submitted through the AARP Community Challenge online portal (available on this page and via AARP.org/CommunityChallenge) with all pertinent information by March 6, 2024, 5 p.m. (ET) / 2 p.m. (PT).
Late or incomplete applications will not be reviewed
Grant Selection Notification
Grant recipients and unselected applicants will be notified by email in May 2024. Selected applicants must execute and email a binding Memorandum of Understanding and completed vendor forms to AARP by June 12, 2024. Noncompliance with this deadline may result in disqualification or delayed funding.
Submission Terms and Conditions
If you submit this application, you agree on behalf of yourself and your organization to release AARP and its affiliates and their respective officers, directors, employees, contractors, agents and representatives from all liability associated with submission and evaluation of your organization’s application.
By submitting an application to AARP, the applicant agrees that:
The decisions of AARP regarding the eligibility of applicants and the validity of entries shall be final and binding.
All submissions will be judged by AARP, whose decisions and determinations as to the administration of the award and selection of award recipients are final.
AARP has the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, or suspend the award.
All projects and applications shall not violate any third-party rights.
Except where prohibited by law, participation in the AARP Community Challenge constitutes the Applicant’s consent to AARP’s use of the organization’s name and corporate logo, street address, city, state, zip code, county, and names, likenesses, photographs, videos, images, and statements made or provided by the Applicant’s representatives regarding the award for promotional purposes in any media without further permission, consent, payment or other consideration.
For the Flagship or the Demonstration Grant, the organization agrees to carry and maintain comprehensive general liability and professional liability in an amount not less than one million dollars ($1,000,000) and workers’ compensation insurance in an amount as required by applicable law covering all personnel engaged in the execution of the grant.
For the Capacity-Building Microgrant, the organization agrees to carry and maintain comprehensive general liability insurance in an amount that’s appropriate to cover the potential liability of the project as determined by the organization.
All promotional materials (such as newsletters, press releases), events and signage related to the funded project will include a statement indicating that support was received from AARP.
The organization is required to capture photos of the project and is encouraged to capture video. As the organization captures photos and video of the project, if an identifiable individual appears in the photos and/or videos, the organization is responsible for having him/her sign the AARP General Release (this document will be provided to grantees with the MOU and other required paperwork). In addition, the organization should not include any element in photos or videos provided to AARP that may violate third party rights such as artwork and trademarks in text and logo other than those owned by the organization and AARP. The organization should be prepared to send work in progress photos to AARP upon request. Following the grant period, grantees are required to respond to periodic requests for updates from AARP.
The submission of the After-Action Report at the conclusion of the project is required by the deadline. Failure to submit the required report will result in the removal from the AARP website until the time of submission, and non-completion will disqualify an applicant from future AARP Community Challenge grant programs.
AARP and its affiliated organizations, subsidiaries, agents and employees are not responsible for late, lost, illegible, incomplete, stolen, misdirected, illegitimate, or impermissible submissions or any other error whether human, mechanical or electronic.
Questions? Please email CommunityChallenge@AARP.org
Page published January 10, 2024, updated January 31.