HONOLULU — Community organizations and local governments across the state have two weeks left before the deadline to apply for the 2021 Community Challenge grant program.
Grants fund quick-action projects that can range 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 excited to see the ideas people and organizations have to improve their own communities, and want to encourage eligible organizations to apply,” said AARP Hawai‘i State Director Keali‘i Lopez.
“We’ve seen great results from the Community Challenge grant program in communities across Hawai‘i, and 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 10 grants totaling more than $112,000 in Hawai‘i – 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% to improving urban places.
Granted projects have demonstrated an ability to help garner additional funds or support from public and private funders, encourage replication, 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 with an emphasis on 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;
• Back 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.
The application deadline is Wednesday, April 14, and all projects must be completed by Nov. 10, 2021. To submit an application and view past grantees, visit aarp.org/communitychallenge.
AARP Hawai‘i works in collaboration with communities across the state, bringing people together and providing resources and expertise to help make Hawai‘i’s counties, towns and cities great places to live for people of all ages.
Projects supported by the Community Challenge grant include the Centennial Park in Waikiki, beautification of traffic boxes in Waianae, safety improvements and beautification of an intersection on Papipi Road near Ewa Elementary School, and a program in West Hawai‘i to create “prescriptions” for diabetes-management patients to bicycle.
Source: The Garden Island