AARP is accepting applications for the 2021 Community Challenge grant program. 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.

Last year in North Dakota, Max, Belcourt, Minot and Bismarck were each recipients of Community Challenge grants. In previous years, Forman, Jamestown, West Fargo, Grand Forks, Buxton, Hettinger and Bismarck received grants. Nationwide, 560 grants have been awarded since the program began in 2017.

The program provides direct support to all community types, with nearly 40 percent of past projects benefitting rural communities, 20 percent going to suburban locations and 40 percent improving urban places. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. The average grant amount nationally has been $11,000.

“We are thrilled to bring this grant opportunity back to North Dakota and we encourage all eligible organizations to apply,” said Josh Askvig, AARP state director. “This year we are increasing our support for projects that focus on diversity and inclusion, and aid in local recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”

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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.

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.
  • Other community improvements. In addition, AARP wants to hear about local needs and new, innovative ideas for addressing them.

The 2021 application deadline is 7 p.m. CT April 14, 2021, and all projects must be completed by Nov. 10, 2021. To submit an application or learn more, visit www.AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.