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Grant Program Seeks CA Community Improvements to Fund

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A local resident waves as she picks up her bag of produce from the Chinatown Health Initiative at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. (Veronica Monjara/Las Fotos)
A local resident waves as she picks up her bag of produce from the Chinatown Health Initiative at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. (Veronica Monjara/Las Fotos)
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
February 17, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Starting today, local governments and nonprofits across California have the opportunity to apply for grants from AARP, to fund projects that make their areas more livable.

The fifth annual Community Challenge Grant is accepting applications now through April 14.

Jenny Aleman-Zometa, program director for the nonprofit Los Angeles River State Park Partners, says a $15,000 grant in 2020 funded the Chinatown Health Initiative, which handed out bags of produce once a month last summer and fall at the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

"We had a huge turnout. We had more people than we could actually serve," said Aleman-Zometa. "We were able to hand out about 100 bags during each event, and we actually had to turn people away. The event spread word-of-mouth."

The grant program looks to fund projects that create vibrant public places, improve transportation or housing, increase civic engagement, support recovery from the pandemic, or make communities more inclusive.

Jana Schwartz, a senior planner with the nonprofit Circulate San Diego says last year, her group used its $15,000 grant to translate its website and public-transit brochures into Arabic. The program is intended to entice more people from El Cajon's large Iraqi-American community to use the trolley and bus system.

"We want to be able to provide access to activities in San Diego, but for many, they don't know much beyond El Cajon, because the education and understanding wasn't there," Schwartz explained. "So, this grant opportunity was tremendous for being able to create those resources."

For groups that are interested in applying for a 2021 AARP Community Challenge grant, the application is online at AARP.org/CommunityChallenge.


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