DENVER — AARP is now accepting applications for its Community Challenge grant program.
This year's focus is to increase investments in projects that boost diversity and inclusion, and that help local communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Applications will be accepted through April 14.
Bob Murphy, state director for AARP Colorado, said they're looking to greenlight projects that can help communities become more user-friendly for residents of all backgrounds and all ages.
"Older adults having easy access to medical appointments, to cultural activities, to grocery stores," Murphy observed. "And to the extent that we can plan for removing barriers and easier access for older adults, we're doing the same thing for everyone."
The grant program, now in its fifth year, is part of AARP's national Livable Communities initiative, which supports efforts in cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to improve public parks and open spaces, increase access to transportation and housing options, and foster civic engagement.
Most grants are relatively modest, around $10,000 on average, and will be awarded to projects that can be completed by Nov. 10.
Previous grants in Colorado have helped make Denver's Federal Boulevard safer and more walkable, provided fitness equipment in Grand Junction, increased modes of transportation in Larimer County, and supported community art programs in Lakewood.
Roberto Rey, associate state director for AARP Colorado, who directs the group's multicultural outreach efforts, said the grants provide a unique opportunity for communities to celebrate their diversity.
"If our goal is to have a community that's a good place to live, that it be so in a way that engages the increasing diversity of most communities," Rey explained. "We want to make a community that's a good place to live for everyone."
Rey noted the Community Challenge grants are open to nonprofits and government entities. Other types of organizations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Since its launch in 2017, the program has invested some $6 million in projects designed to create age-friendly communities.