PORTLAND — AARP Maine announced that 11 organizations throughout the state will receive 2022 Community Challenge grants – part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.4 million awarded among 260 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable in the long-term by improving public places; transportation; housing; diversity, equity and inclusion; digital access; and civic engagement, with an emphasis on the needs of adults age 50 and over.
“AARP Maine is committed to working with communities 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 and to support their efforts as they make immediate improvements in their communities to jumpstart long-term change, especially for Mainers 50 and over.”
Here in Maine, projects funded include:
- Bangor Livable Communities – The safety and functionality of the Kenduskeag Stream Trail will be improved by widening the trail, installing ADA-compliant benches and improving signage. A structural assessment of one bridge will be conducted.
- Kennebec Estuary Land Trust – The Whiskeag Trail will be widened and stabilized; bridges will be widened, with ramps added; ADA-compliant benches will be installed; and an emergency system will be updated.
- Age-Friendly Communities of the Lower Kennebec – A multimedia package informing recipients about accessory dwelling units will be produced.
- Danforth Livable Communities – The city’s Livable Communities Center will be brought up to ADA standards with a new front walkway and entryway and a renovation of its stairwell.
- United Way of the Tri-Valley Area – A program providing free rides to people age 50 and older in this rural community will be maintained and expanded, partly with the addition of seven volunteer drivers.
- Marti Stevens Interactive Improvisational Theater (“MSIIT”) – Theatrical performances about challenges experienced by older adults will be staged at venues across central Maine. (Follow the link in the organization’s name to read an AARP.org/Livable article about this grantee and interactive theater).
- Age-Friendly Portland – Local businesses will be encouraged to accommodate older adults by applying for age-friendly-business designations. The rewards will include window decals, a certificate, and free ramps and entry buzzers.
- Project GRACE – Three community gardens, two of which are used exclusively to feed undernourished residents, will gain funding, as will a program that provides supplemental heating assistance and home repairs to older adults.
- Georges River Land Trust – A portion of an existing riverfront trail will receive new seating, trailhead kiosks with information about the area and new accessible parking spots.
- Age-Friendly South Portland – A walk audit will be conducted to identify ways to improve safety on the Green Belt Trail. Signage will also be installed, and a program on the correct use of the trail will be produced for Access TV.
- Town of Surry – Signage will be added along Route 172 to slow speeding traffic by drivers who are often unaware of the small town’s presence as they shuttle between Ellsworth and Blue Hill.
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, AARP is bolstering its investment of affordable and adaptable housing solutions in response to the national housing crisis. With additional funding support from Toyota Motor North America, the program is also increasing its support of projects that improve mobility innovation and transportation options.
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. Since 2017, AARP Maine has awarded 32 grants and $179,912 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state.
View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at aarp.org/communitychallenge and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at aarp.org/livable.