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See More Grantees Like This One

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: North Lawndale, whose population is 70 African American and 50 aged over 55 years, is one of 22 Chicago community areas with neither a grocery store nor supermarket. To combat food insecurity there, Jesus Word Center converted a vacant lot into a community garden. Project organizers purchased gardening tools, compost and vegetable seeds for local volunteers, most of whom are older adults. The improvements allowed gardeners to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs and the Jesus Word Center planned health and wellness workshops onsite. In the future, organizers hope to introduce a farmers market in the area as well, with the goal of improving health outcomes in the majority-Black community.

Rushville, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: This project will turn a vacant lot into a wheelchair-accessible community garden with 25 raised flower and produce garden beds for group therapy, educational and mindfulness sessions. All produce will go to a 24-hour community food pantry for those in need.

Chicago, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The El Paseo Community Garden in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood added a new gathering space, dubbed El Convivio or The Gathering. The goal of the project was to make the garden more accessible to Latino older adults living in nearby apartment buildings. Improvements to the space include an outdoor kitchen and patio with a fire pit, ADA-compliant seating, walking paths and an accessible planting station. Planters at the site were specifically designed to grow culturally relevant produce, including tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions. The picnic area's stucco and ceramic tiles mimic designs seen in Mexican haciendas. Garden leaders partnered with nonprofit architectural firm Human Scale to involve garden members in the space's design and volunteers from the neighborhood installed the new amenities. As El Paseo's leadership finalized El Convivio, they also worked with the City of Chicago to secured additional land to expand the garden.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Grantees

Batavia, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2017

Project Category: Engaging people in transportation options/safety

Description: Local officials and community organizations hoped to increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic in downtown Batavia. To do this, the Batavia Environmental Commission, Batavia Bicycle Commission, the WellBatavia Initiative and Batavia Maitreet undertook a research and promotional campaign. They hosted a walk and bike audit that taught residents urban biking skills, such as how to load a bike onto a public bus. The initiative then paired participants with residents of a local retirement community, as well as with families with small children, to help them learn about biking. The group produced a 15-minute video documentary presenting the town's history, showcasing its pedestrian and bike infrastructure and highlighting the need for future improvements. In 2022, Batavia announced it would create a bicycle and walking plan to improve city trails and make intersections safer.

East St. Louis, IL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: As part of its efforts to boost public transit use and spart economic development around transit stations, Citizens for Modern Transit activated the Emerson Park light rail and bus station in East St. Louis. To choose a theme for the station and ensure the new amenities would meet the community's needs, project organizers held design workers and other community engagement events. They then installed new seating, shade structures and a sound system to pipe music into the space. A local artist collaborated with community members to create pavement art and a mural, which pay tribute to the area's musical history. Organizers say they hope the new space promotes creative play, cultivates community and encourages people to ride public transit.

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