AARP is awarding nearly $158,000 in community challenge grants to ten Florida organizations that focus their efforts on making cities, towns and neighborhoods livable spaces for people of all ages and abilities.
The Council on Aging of West Florida received a $50,000 Community Challenge Grant, the largest awarded in the state this year, and will use the funds to build two “tiny houses.” One house will be a new home for a low-income senior citizen and the other will be used as a model home.
Two organizations in Miami — Friends of The Underline and Transit Alliance Miami — were awarded $20,000 grants. The former will use the funds to expand Miami’s Walk4Life club into the city’s downtown. The My Transit My City project will offer lessons and technical support to older adults and people with disabilities about how to use the county’s redesigned bus system.
Grace Arts in nearby Ft. Lauderdale received $12,500. The money will be used for a giant fabric shade for the Victoria Park neighborhood.
All projects must be completed by Nov. 30, 2022.
“AARP Florida is committed to working with communities to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible changes. We are proud to collaborate with this year’s grantees as they make immediate improvements in their communities to jumpstart long-term change in the Sunshine State, especially for Floridians 50+-plus,” said AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson in a prepared statement.
AARP announced in January it was accepting applications for the 2022 Community Challenge grant program.
The quick-action grants are for projects that will be funded in all 50 states, Washington, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
An AARP panel of experts in aging and community design reviewed the applications. The goal was to provide funds to organizations and cities that could immediately use the money on projects that could yield permanent long-term changes to help residents age in place.
AARP supports aging-in-place initiatives because they help keep people out of institutional care such as nursing homes.
Aging in place requires built environments where streets are designed and planned to maintain accessible, convenient and safe travel for people of all ages and abilities, concepts promoted by the Department of Transportation through the Complete Streets program.
To that end, AARP awarded the city of Tampa $7,500 to build a pathway connecting Linebaugh Avenue and apartments for older adults to the walking loop in Takomah Trail Park. A Tallahassee-based group called 2-1-1 Big Bend received a $15,000 grant to make rides available throughout the county to residents aged 50 or older.
Other grant recipients include:
— Dunedin Public Library: $6,200 to add universal-access picnic tables to the playground at the library, and create a “story walk” with signage explaining the city’s history and other distinctions.
— Walton County Board of County Commissioners: A $9,000 gaming area will be created at the Coastal Branch Library on an existing courtyard or green space. It will include a ping-pong table, cornhole game and checkers/chess table.
— Tampa Carrollwood Cultural Center: $6,350 to aid blind or visually impaired arts aficionados. The money will help hire audio describers and install an assistive-listening system for the center’s theatrical, dance and art offerings. The Blind Visionaries multimedia group will perform, and a tactile and audible art exhibit will be staged.
— Wilton Manors Three Bridges Neighborhood Association: $11,250 to improve the aesthetic appeal of Coral Gardens Park by installing new lighting, plants and a Little Free Library. Grant funds will also be used for a renaming contest and block party.