In late June, AARP announced the winners of its sixth AARP Community Challenge; an annual competition to launch improvements to make communities across the United States more livable for people of all ages and mobility levels.
The program received 3,200 applications from nonprofit organizations and government entities from which AARP selected 260 projects to receive a portion of the $3.4 million available.
“Helping adults thrive as they age has never been more important, and AARP is dedicated to working with communities to improve residents’ quality of life through tangible change.” This year, we are proud to support the most projects in the six-year history of the AARP Community Challenge to help communities take advantage of opportunities through historic federal investments,” said Nancy LeaMond, Vice AARP Executive Chair and Head of Advocacy and Engagement.
Each of the projects that received funding achieved one of many outcomes, including a group of projects that provide a range of transportation and mobility options to increase connectivity, walking, cycling, wayfinding, access to transportation options and road improvements.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the city’s Public Works Mobility Team will use its $32,000 grant to increase safety, accessibility and comfort at mobility hubs and add community ambassadors aimed at helping seniors to interact with mobility hubs, learn more and provide feedback. Additionally, the funds will cover the cost of installing new seating, floodlights and signage to create mobility hubs at North Market, 44th and Humboldt; and Lake Street and Chicago Avenue more welcoming, safer and easier to navigate.
In addition to Minneapolis, the list of mobility-focused projects that will receive AARP funds include:
Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona: Elaine
Transportation to medical appointments, job and housing interviews, groceries and similar destinations will be provided to hundreds of the most vulnerable members of both communities.
Miami-Dade County, Florida: Transit Alliance Miami
The My Transit My City project will provide lessons and technical support to seniors and people with disabilities on how to use the county’s redesigned bus system.
Columbus, GA: METRA Transit System
Four two-person porch swings will be installed at the city bus station on new woodchip beds for added safety.
LaGrange, Ga.: West Georgia STAR
A shuttle service will be created, operating from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., in this rural community without a formal public transit system or access to ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber.
Chicago and Area, Illinois: The SafeLIGHT Foundation
A new program will provide taxi and ride-sharing services for seniors who need transportation assistance.
Floyd County, Indiana: Blue River Services, Inc.
The grant funds will help expand on-demand transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities.
Perry, Iowa: Heartland Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA)
ADA-compliant benches will be installed at city bus stops and improved signage (including bilingual signs at designated stops) will be implemented throughout the system. Free rides will be offered to passengers who participate in a local health study.
Westport, Mass. : Westport advice on aging
A fixed-route seniors’ transportation service will be established, operating one day a week between common shopping, banking and medical care destinations in this rural community.
Duluth, Minn. : Duluth for Seniors and Ecolibrium3
Teams of participants will design solutions that will make the city more age-friendly. Areas of focus will include housing, transportation and more.
McLeod County, Minnesota: Central Minnesota Development Commission
Transportation tokens will be distributed to seniors and people with disabilities in residential facilities, and child care providers will receive passes allowing them to take the children in their care to these facilities, thus promoting contact intergenerational.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: City of Minneapolis
The network of “mobility hubs” – places around the city that help travelers – will be bolstered with improved signage and seating, and local ambassadors will be hired to educate residents on their use.
St. Louis County, Missouri: Citizens for Modern Transit
Accessible seating, a UV shade, and a mural examining local history will be installed at the North Hanley Transit Center.
Bismarck, Lincoln and Mandan, ND: Bis-Man Transit Board
Videos to educate residents about the transit system, including fixed-route service, will be produced and used in transit workshops.
Franklin County, Ohio: Central Ohio Bhutanese Community
Bhutanese refugee women will learn how to access libraries, parks and public transport.
Toledo, Ohio: CommunityCare Clinics (CCC)
A bus stop near the clinic will be set up with a bench and a shelter. Carpooling arrangements will also be improved through a new partnership, and bike racks will be installed at the clinic.
Philadelphia, PA: Public Utility Emergency Services Fund
Rideshare and transit will be provided for seniors traveling to Oak Street Health facilities.
Mid Rio Grande Region, Texas: Southwest Region Regional Transit District
Training in mobility and autonomy will be offered to seniors and people with disabilities.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Glendale Neighborhood Council
A Transportation Committee will be created within the Glendale Ward Council to chart a course on transportation issues in Glendale and more.
Bainbridge Island, Washington: Bainbridge Island Senior/Community Center
This will test the value of a collaborative transport network, combining volunteer and contract drivers, to create an effective system for older people and the community as a whole.