WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP IN YOUR LIFE? Five Recipients Part of AARP Connecticut’s Third Livable Communities Grant Program

Residents and leaders across Connecticut have creative and inspiring ideas and solutions to improve communities, respond to pressing issues and build partnerships that will make our state a great place for all to call home or visit.

By Nora Duncan | Translated by Jamal Fox & Alisson Ziza

Residents and leaders across Connecticut have creative and inspiring ideas and solutions to improve communities, respond to pressing issues and build partnerships that will make our state a great place for all to call home or visit. As a way to support the execution and implementation of these efforts, AARP Connecticut launched the Livable Communities Grant Program, a local expansion of the national AARP Community Challenge initiative, in 2018. The initiative provides nonprofit organizations and municipalities in Connecticut with up to $4,000 for projects that aim to help neighborhoods, towns and cities become great places for people of all ages.

AARP Connecticut has selected five awardees for its third Livable Communities Grant Program dedicated to fund quick-action projects in Connecticut communities that will help make immediate improvements or jumpstart long-term progress that will support residents. AARP Connecticut funded seven projects in 2019 and four in 2018, the first year of the program. The 2020 grantees are:

  • Bethel Public Library

Bethel Public Library will use the grant to install permanent, accessible tables on the front lawn of the library to provide community members with new options for safely using the library’s Wi-Fi and participating in community programming. The tables will also be available for diners of local restaurants within a short walking distance of the library lawn to use.

  • Connecticut Housing Partners

With this grant, Parkside Gables, an affordable housing community in Stamford, will create two community spaces for residents: a community computer center that will help residents access educational training opportunities, resources, benefit enrollment and social connection; and an outdoor garden space with four raised-bed gardens.

  • Groton Library Circle of Friends

The grant will help the Groton Public Library create the Library Book Bike and Mobile Information Kiosk, a custom-built tricycle with attached trailer box that can hold up to 600 pounds of library items, including a Wi-Fi hotspot, books, foldout table, electronics charging station, pamphlets and flyers. The initiative will increase the public library’s presence at farmer’s markets, sporting events, beaches, daycares, nursing homes and Senior Centers.

  • New Britain ROOTS

This project will allow students in the ROOTS’ City Growers Youth Program to install 16 accessible raised-bed gardens at the homes of low-income seniors in New Britain. Following installation of the raised-bed gardens, City Growers Youth and the ROOTS’ garden manager will continue to work with the recipients of the 16 raised beds to ensure they have a successful growing season.

  • Reliance Health

This grant will allow Reliance Health to purchase tablets and tablet covers so older adults with mental health conditions can stay safely connected to peers, recovery groups, educational opportunities, relatives and friends.

The program is open to incorporated organizations that are 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) non-profits and Connecticut government entities. Projects can range from small, short-term activities to larger, permanent solutions, but they must be completed within 12 months of receiving the grant. Grant requests were evaluated for projects with a focus on enhancement in one or more of the following areas:

  • Affordable and accessible housing options for residents 50+  
  • Delivery of services to help residents 50+ age in the setting of their choice 
  • Pedestrian and bike infrastructure (sidewalks, amenities for walkers, public art, safe street crossings, navigation, etc.) 
  • Public Transportation 
  • Fostering intergenerational and multicultural connection 
  • Financial security for low income residents 50+  
  • Socialization and fostering community connection for older residents 
  • Education and awareness about LGBTQ elders 
  • Community accessibility for disabled residents
  • Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

AARP Connecticut works in collaboration with communities across the state, bringing people together and providing resources and expertise to help make Connecticut’s counties, towns and cities great places to live for people of all ages. AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative also provides resources and publications to encourage local action. To learn more about AARP’s livable communities work in communities across the country, please visit www.aarp.org/livable.

Communities throughout Connecticut are doing great work to make sure that people of all ages are included, engaged and valued. We hope the Livable Communities Grant Program provides a platform to inspire even more creativity, share best practices and spur innovation.

Nora Duncan is the state director for AARP Connecticut.