Portland, Maine – Today, AARP Maine announced fourteen 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 aged 50 and older.
“AARP Maine is committed to working with local communities and their leaders to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes,” said Noël Bonam, AARP Maine State Director. “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 Mainers 50 and over.”
Grants in Maine
Here in Maine, projects funded include:
- Age-Friendly Chelsea – A donated bus will be converted into an accessible greenhouse, which will be part of a community garden. The exterior of the bus will be decorated with tiles so that it will double as an art installation.
- City of Auburn – Walk audits will ensure intergenerational community design input for two MaineDOT-funded traffic and pedestrian safety modification projects and one in the planning phase. The sites require traffic calming to make it safer for pedestrians, including older residents.
- Age-Friendly Saco – 100 volunteer Aging Services Ambassadors will be trained to provide information about local services for older adults.
- Age-Friendly Sullivan – The grant will fund an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the town’s community building, which will be accessible to anyone using the facilities for exercise, meetings, or other activities.
- Blue Hill Heritage Trust – An easily traversed walking path and viewing platform, as well as a ramp that allowing for easy access to the shore will be developed.
- Cary Medical Center with Age Friendly Caribou – A digital toolkit will be created to inform residents about elder abuse and engage them in its prevention, with the additional aim of sharing the toolkit with other Maine communities.
- Friends of Congress Square Park – The grant will fund a badminton league, disc golf practice sessions and chess and board-game events to help bring people together with fun activities.
- Friends of the Long Island Wellness Council – The council will purchase a beach wheelchair to enable residents with limited mobility to enjoy the area’s beaches.
- Millinocket Memorial Library – Solar-powered lighting will be installed along a popular downtown walking trail, increasing safety and accessibility, especially for older walkers.
- Scarborough Public Library – This project will establish a network of walking paths to provide a safe place and programs for older adults to exercise and socialize outdoors in a community that lacks a walkable downtown.
- Three Rivers Land Trust – This project will install accessible benches and parking guidance to make it easier for older adults and people with mobility challenges to enjoy the Goat Hill Trail.
- Town of Berwick with Berwick for a Lifetime – The town will create a Handy Helper Tool Collection to enable residents to try out tools for everyday activities and household chores. The displays will introduce residents to new products before they make purchases.
- Town of Bowdoinham – The town will develop a plain language guide promoting the use of Universal Design as an approach to more inclusive, safe and accessible housing for people of all ages and abilities.
- Town of Windham Parks and Recreation Department – This project will provide an accessible, shaded picnic area to an existing park that will soon be the location of a self-guided walking trail.
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 Maine has awarded 57 grants and $390,021 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state.