MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin cities and towns are being invited to join a national contest intended to create momentum to improve livability for people of all ages.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant money are up for grabs in the 2019 AARP Community Challenge for quick action projects.
AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson says the program serves as a springboard for ideas that need more funding to get off the ground. "We're oftentimes seeing the Community Challenge grant dollars being the seed money that's then joined with community partners who have similar interests, for building many of the livable community features that AARP is looking for, as well," explains.
Projects are encouraged that address local needs through innovative ideas for housing, transportation and ways to improve public spaces. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for small, short term activities to several thousand dollars for larger projects
. The deadline to apply is April 17 and the projects must be completed by Nov. 4. Wilson says the challenge can inspire long-term progress in creating livable communities, which he describes as safe, connected, supportive for all ages, and that foster engagement in civic and social life. "We really want to end some of the challenges that communities experience with social isolation, particularly amongst older adults," he stresses. "Projects that are intergenerational in nature, help increase physical activity, help people's emotional well-being. Those are the kinds of projects that are really home runs."
Three Wisconsin projects were among the 129 selected for grants last year. The cities of Ashland and Sheboygan used grant money to buy and install Bike Fixation bicycle repair stations, and the La Crosse Area Family YMCA installed new benches at the its Community Food Forest.