1000 x 90

Watauga Arts Council Wins AARP Grant as Part of Program to Make Communities More Livable

This week, AARP announced that nine organizations throughout North Carolina will receive 2024 Community Challenge grants – part of AARP’s largest investment in communities to date with $3.8 million awarded among 343 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places; transportation; housing; digital connections; and more, with an emphasis on the needs of adults ages 50 and older.

 “AARP North Carolina is committed to working with local leaders, advocates and policymakers to make our communities better places to live for people of all ages, especially those 50 and older,” said AARP North Carolina Director Michael Olender. “We are proud to collaborate with this year’s grantees as they make immediate improvements to address long-standing and emerging challenges across our communities.”

Here in North Carolina, projects funded include:

Watagua Arts Council, Boone – to help improve public spaces, this project will install tunnel murals in the mountains of NC created by community members to tell their stories, express identity and create enriching spaces to encourage health and wellness for people of all ages.

City of Hendersonville – The grant will provide funding for new bicycle facilities connecting residents and visitors to parks, trails, libraries, and shops. This improvement will make Hendersonville more age-friendly by enhancing quality of life, public health and safety.

Town of Mount Airy – Funding for the Market Street Arts and Entertainment Project that will transform a downtown area into a vibrant space for residents and visitors, fostering walkability and enhancing livability in a historic area known as Mayberry, America’s friendliest town.

City of Salisbury – Funding for additional, much needed, bicycle parking for visitors and temporary residents to Rowan Helping Ministries.*

*This support is made possible due to a grant from AARP with funding support provided by Toyota Motor North America.

Grahamtown Team, Inc, Forest City – to help improve public spaces, this project will “create community” throughout the Grahamtown neighborhood by providing space for eating and seating throughout the community.

County of Madison – Funding to support “Healthy Active Madison,” with the focus of improving the health of individuals aged 50 plus. The project will provide adult exercise equipment and outdoor community space to increase active living and promote healthier lifestyles.

Jones County Community Hope, Trenton – to help create digital connections to empower seniors in rural Jones County through affordable internet access, digital literacy workshops and devices

Oaks and Spokes, Raleigh – funding support for new, inclusive programming featuring two-to-three annual bike audits in neighborhoods with a significant 50+ population. The audits will involve local residents who will gather data, plan and advocate for safer biking.

Senior Resources of Guilford, High Point — A walk audit will introduce a disadvantaged inner-city area where over 30 percent of residents do not own an automobile, to the potential of a more walkable community. The data collected will help foster change. 

This year, AARP awarded three different grant opportunities, including flagship grantscapacity-building microgrants for improving walkability, bikeability and accessible home modifications, and demonstration grants that focus on equitable engagement to reconnect communities, housing choice design competitions and improving digital connections to endure disasters.

With funding support from Toyota Motor North America, the program is increasing its investment in pedestrian safety projects that will improve streets and sidewalks, create vibrant pedestrian infrastructure, engage community members and much more. AARP is also bolstering its investment in community resilience, rural communities, and addressing disparities.

“Whether it’s helping people access high speed internet or protecting public transit riders from rain and snow, small community projects can have a big impact on people of all ages,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer. “AARP Community Challenge grantees make our commitment to creating better places to live a reality through quick, innovative solutions.”

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, with an emphasis on people ages 50 and older. Since 2017, AARP North Carolina has awarded 40 grants and $469,000 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state.

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 December 15, 2024.

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.


About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/about-aarp/www.aarp.org/español or follow @AARP@AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.