By Mike Festa, State director, AARP Massachusetts
There is a lot happening on the “Age Friendly” movement in the Bay State, from legislative briefings to national and state grant opportunities.
In early March, AARP Massachusetts and the MA Healthy Aging Collaborative sponsored an Age Friendly Communities legislative briefing with legislative sponsor state Senator Adam Hinds (D – Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden) to educate elected officials on the statewide initiative.
Additionally, AARP is now accepting applications for the 2019 Community Challenge grant program to fund “quick-action” projects that spark change in local communities. The grant program, which is now in its third year, is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which aims to make communities great places to live for everyone.
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. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand for larger projects. The program will accept applications in the following categories for 2019:
- Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities.” This new category in 2019 will encourage communities to develop and implement innovative programs that engage residents in accessing, understanding, and using data to increase quality of life for all. The intention with this category is to encourage applicants to demonstrate new ways to engage in decision-making about housing, transportation, economic development, placemaking, infrastructure, or other community aspect.
- Deliver a range of transportation and connectivity options in the community through permanent or temporary solutions that increase walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements
- Create vibrant public places in the community through permanent or temporary solutions that activate open spaces, improve parks and improve access to amenities
- Support the availability of a range of housing in the community through permanent or temporary solutions that increase accessible and affordable housing options
- Other innovative projects to improve the community
AARP Massachusetts works in collaboration with communities across the state, bringing people together and providing resources and expertise to help make the Bay State’s counties, towns and cities great places to live for people of all ages.
The application deadline is Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 11:59 p.m. ET, and all projects must be completed by Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. Applications must be submitted through AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.
Last year, 129 Community Challenge grants were awarded across the country, including three in Massachusetts:
- Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell, Inc. received grant funds to improve Greater Lowell communities by supporting the Critical Home Repairs program designed to address home repair and maintenance issues for low-income homeowners.
- The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority received grant funding to provide benches in public spaces in Springfield to assist seniors and people with disabilities in using the regional transit service.
- The Old Colony YMCA received funds to improve a hiking trail in East Bridgewater with wayfinding signage, and ADA-compliant benches and boardwalks.
In addition to the national Community Challenge grant program, the AARP Massachusetts state office will make funds available for more age-friendly grant programs soon. Check our AARP Massachusetts website for updates at: www.aarp.org/ma.