AARP announced the awardees for its 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant program, including five recipients right here in Vermont. A total of nearly $2.4 million will be distributed to fund 159 “quick action” projects across the country, helping communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term progress to support residents of all ages.
In Vermont, grants totaling nearly $45,000 were awarded to five organizations across the state. Some 32 applications were received from a variety of communities and statewide entities. Each of the projects, which must be completed by December 18, 2020, is designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:
• Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets.
• Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices.
• Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions.
• Increase civic engagement and demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by bringing together local leaders and residents from all backgrounds to address challenges.
• Support coronavirus response and recovery efforts by ensuring older adults’ access to information, essential services, and civic life.
Here in Vermont the grantees include:
Yestermorrow Design/Build School -Washington County – $9,430
“The Snail,” an iconic but discontinued bus stop structure, will be restored and moved to a more strategic transit location that will create a safe and unique structure for people of all ages to utilize.
Central VT Council on the Aging – $5,000
This grant will expand a successful public art initiative to more area towns and activate senior/elder artists as a pilot for the expansion that will contribute to the successful aging of participants by addressing social isolation through the arts.
Sunrise Rotary Club of Randolph – $7,500
The grant will provide for the installation of outdoor musical instruments, benches and signage at the town’s playground and recreation field, Harmony Park, further activating the public space and encouraging people of all ages to express themselves and connect year round.
Downtown Brattleboro Alliance – $12,500
This grant will increase the safety and accessibility of a public parking garage and the adjacent alleyway that serves several vital needs to the community. The public spaces will be transformed into more welcoming and appealing places for the public by including the installation of signage, a kinetic sculpture and pop-up art events
UVM Center on Research on Vermont – $10,000
To elevate the issues of livable communities and their role in the coronavirus crisis recovery, a Community News Service will be created. The service will include a professional editor who will work to place stories with understaffed community newspapers and university students who will serve as reporters writing about creating vibrant and livable communities.
“We are incredibly excited to support these organizations as they work to make immediate improvements in their communities and to encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,” shared Greg Marchildon, AARP Vermont state director “Our goal at AARP Vermont is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities and the coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the importance of this work.”
Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President, Community, State and National Affairs stressed the broad scope of this nationwide initiative. “AARP has teams on the ground in communities across the country who hear from mayors, community leaders and local residents about the value of getting quick wins to create long-term change. We developed the Community Challenge grant program to answer that call and help build momentum for more livable communities nationwide.”
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. As part of this, AARP staff and volunteers are working across the country, engaging and mobilizing residents, delivering technical assistance and expertise to local leaders and organizations, and supporting the work of the 381 communities and four states that have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. The full list of grantees can be found at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge.