Grants Available to Make Communities More Livable

The Fontana Walks program won a grant last year to challenge residents to collectively walk 1 million miles over the course of a year. Photo Credit: Fontana Walks

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Local nonprofits and government agencies always are looking for ways to make their communities more livable. And now a grant program from AARP can help make some of those projects a reality.

The AARP Community Challenge 2018 will fund projects that improve transportation, parks, access to housing and more. Rafi Nazarians, associate state director of community with AARP California, said the grants range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for larger projects, but they have to be something that can be implemented right away.

“AARP believes that communities should provide safe, walkable streets, affordable and accessible housing and transportation options, access to needs and services and opportunities for residents to participate in community life,” Nazarians said. “And so this grant is inspiring communities to take action.”

The deadline to apply is May 16. This is the second year of the program; last year it funded 88 worthy projects across all fifty states. Learn more at

One of last year’s winners is a program called Fontana Walks – where the Inland Empire city challenged its residents to walk 2 billion steps over the course of a year. Tiffany Starks, community service supervisor with the city of Fontana, said they’re about 75 percent of the way to their goal, with three and a half months left to go.

“We settled on a walking challenge because we feel that walking is really easy, it’s free, it can really change someone’s life and really be impactful and alter someone’s physical and mental well-being,” Starks said.

Some of the other projects in California last year include one that installed pedestrian walk buttons on traffic lights in West Sacramento, and one to help older people in the Monterey area stay in their homes longer as they age.