The AARP Connecticut Livable Communities Grant Program, a local expansion of the AARP Community Challenge initiative, was launched in August to provide nonprofit organizations and municipalities in Connecticut with up to $2,500 for projects that aim to help neighborhoods, towns and cities become more livable for people of all ages. The program was open to incorporated organizations that are 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profits and Connecticut government entities. The 2018 grantees (quotes from a representative of each grantee is also below):
· Goodwin College: Trails Safety & Informational Signage
This project will enhance Goodwin College’s recreational walking trails that are accessible and located near multiple housing areas with safety signs that protect trail users from injury and provide information about what to do in case of emergency.
· Groundwork Bridgeport: Downtown Film Fest
This grant will help stimulate the development and community engagement at multiple downtown locations in Bridgeport through three free movie screenings for residents of all ages. The downtown film fest supports an extensive plan for future growth in the city by Groundwork Bridgeport, in partnership with the Downtown Special Services District and the Trust for Public Land.
· Mansfield Downtown Partnership: Creating Great Public Spaces
This grant will help in the development of an intergenerational multifunctional courtyard on Wilbur Cross Way, a downtown street that connects the Post Office, residential homes, restaurants and shops. The new space supports the Mansfield Town Council and Mansfield Downtown Partnership’s plan to create an area for relaxing, small concerts, puppet shows, book and poetry readings, and more.
· Oak Hill: Smart Home Device Lending Library
While new technology can help people stay in their homes as they age, it can also be intimidating. The Smart Home Lending Device Library will allow people to test a device in their home for free to evaluate the compatibility for their unique needs. Oak Hill will house the lending library as part of its Smart Home on Wheels (SHOW), which recently debuted and will tour urban and rural areas of Connecticut.
“Livable communities that encourage civic, economic and social participation are vital to the overall health of a state,” said Nora Duncan, state director, AARP Connecticut. “The inaugural grantees are just four examples in Connecticut of those who are working every day to create and build cities, towns and neighborhoods that are great places for people of all ages to call home or visit.”
Grants can range from small, short-term activities to larger, permanent solutions. Each project, which must be completed within 12 months, is designed to achieve on one or more of the following outcomes:
· Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, access to public and private transit, and/or community accessibility for disabled residents.
· Create vibrant public places that foster intergenerational and multicultural connections, and improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.
· Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.
· Other community improvements, including education and awareness about LGBTQ elders, financial security for low income residents who are 50 or over, and socialization and fostering community connection for older residents.
AARP announced in July that it will fund 129 projects across the country in 2018, including three in Connecticut, as part of its second annual AARP Community Challenge grant program. The initiative funded 88 projects in 2017.
AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. AARP also provides resources and publications to encourage local action such as the Roadmap to Livability and the AARP book-series Where We Live: Communities for All Ages. To learn more about AARP’s livable communities work in communities across the country please visit www.aarp.org/livable.
Antonio Matta, college architect, Goodwin College: “Goodwin College looks forward to working with AARP Connecticut to enhance trail experiences along the two miles of Goodwin’s South Meadows Trails in East Hartford by adding safety and informational signage. The trails provide people of all ages with opportunities for enjoyment, learning and fitness. Goodwin College encourages all to visit the bountiful flora and fauna, wildlife, and vistas along the banks of the Connecticut River.”
Tanner Burgdorf, program coordinator, Groundwork Bridgeport: “The AARP Connecticut Livable Communities grant is an opportunity to activate spaces in downtown Bridgeport that are often overlooked but have potential to be vibrant civic spaces. It will raise awareness of the capability for Downtown Bridgeport to be a place that is livable, inspired by its art and culture, and host events that bring people of all ages together.”
Laura Rozza, grants and contracts specialist, Oak Hill: “AARP and Oak Hill are partnering to bring life-changing technology to people age 50 and over to improve their health and safety, and help them successfully age in place. Oak Hill’s Smart Home Device Lending Library services allow people to try the latest smart home technology before they buy it. This innovative service is available free throughout Connecticut.”
Cynthia van Zelm, executive director, Mansfield Downtown Partnership: “We are grateful for the support of AARP Connecticut through its Livable Communities Grant for the Mansfield Downtown Partnership. The grant will leverage the commitment from the Town of Mansfield and the Partnership to provide additional public spaces in Downtown Storrs for enjoyment of our residents and visitors. Our goal is to create a series of destination nodes in the downtown area with unique character. The street swing that AARP Connecticut is funding is one additional playful and fun element for one of our key destination nodes.”
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