AARP Awards Grants to Four Rhode Island Organizations as Part of its Nationwide Program to Make Communities More Livable
PROVIDENCE, RI —Today, AARP Rhode Island announced four 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 age 50 and older.
“AARP Rhode Island is committed to working with local leaders to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes,” said AARP Rhode Island State Director Catherine Taylor. “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 Rhode Islanders 50 and over.”
Here in Rhode Island, projects funded include:
Providence Streets Coalition (PVD Streets)
"Walk, Talk & Chalk" will bring people over 50 and civic leaders together to sketch out - literally - the plan for improving safety, mobility, and access for people of all ages and abilities in Providence. Using AARP’s Walk Audit Toolkit, PVD Streets will organize six walk audit assessments in Providence this year. Each event will focus on bringing residents over 50 out for a walk/roll with city planners, elected leaders, and neighborhood organizers.
Mount Hope Community Center (MHCC)
The Mount Hope Community Center hosts a weekly seniors' group that has expressed a desire for access to computers to help them stay connected with family and friends, access online resources, and learn new skills. To meet this need, MHCC will use grant funding to purchase laptops and create a more modern computer lab for its seniors. This project will provide access to technology and trainings to improve our seniors' quality of life, reduce feelings of isolation, and promote independence and engagement.
A Cycling Without Age ride is a powerful opportunity for pilots and participants to connect in conversation with each other. Bike Newport will target two principal populations: Disabled veterans of all ages and senior veterans. Bike Newport will collaborate with the Rhode Island Chapter of Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the Rhode Island Veterans Home Community Living Center in Bristol, RI, to connect with participants and schedule ride outings utilizing an electric-assist trishaw called “The Chat”. This project will counteract isolation and provide outdoor adventure and camaraderie for people 50-plus and disabled veterans through piloted rides, with trained volunteer pilots.
West End Community Center
This project will distribute 200 straw bales to participating community members, demonstrating how simple safe and cost effective it can be to grow their own vegetables using this revolutionary urban agricultural method. Last summer the organization built a straw bale garden consisting of 10 bales next to its parking lot where community interest resulted in people coming together in caring for the garden and sharing in its harvest.
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 Rhode Island has awarded 17 grants and some $203,522 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state.