AARP Oklahoma announced five organizations, including one in Okmulgee, 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; and more, with an emphasis on the needs of adults age 50 and older.
“AARP Oklahoma is committed to working with local leaders to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes,” AARP Oklahoma Volunteer State President Jim Randall said. “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 Oklahomans 50 and over.”
Projects funded in Oklahoma include:
• Okmulgee Indian Community Center: This project will use vacant land adjacent to senior housing to create a community garden with a minimum of 20 raised vegetable beds and four ac-
SEE INDIAN COMMUNITY CENTER, PAGE A6 cessible benches.
• The Bridge – Pauls Valley: This project will conduct four walk audits to identify and document streets that are unsafe for older pedestrians. This information will be used to make the case for future improvements.
• City of Grove: This project will add lighting and signals to downtown crosswalks to help make them safer, particularly for older pedestrians.
• Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma: This project will expand transportation services to older adults, including recruiting volunteer drivers who will operate a ride-sharing service. This grant is one of 13 transportation system projects funded by Toyota’s $500,000 investment in AARP Driver Safety’s mobility work.
• Southern Oklahoma Library System – Tishomingo: This project will create a private space in the Johnston County Library that residents can use to access telemedicine services. 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 Nov. 30.
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,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer, said. “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 Oklahoma has awarded 22 grants and $$330,560 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state. Nationwide, roughly 40% of AARP Community Challenge grants have been delivered in rural communities since the program’s inception, with a total investment of $4.3 million across 400 grants in rural areas.