Bennington Awarded AARP Community Challenge Grant





July 17, 2019

Bennington and Newport Awarded AARP Community Challenge Grants Totaling Over $42,000

BURLINGTON, VT — Today, AARP announced the awardees for its 2019 AARP Community Challenge grant program, including two recipients right here in Vermont.  A total of nearly $1.6 million will be distributed to fund 159 “quick action” projects across the country, helping communities make immediate improvements and jumpstart long-term progress to support residents of all ages.

In Vermont, grants totaling more than $42,000 were awarded to the cities of Bennington and Newport for specific community development projects in those communities.

Nearly 1,700 applications were received from non-profits and government entities for the program, now in its third year. Each of the projects, which must be completed by November 4, is designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.
  • Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by engaging residents and policymakers in accessing, understanding and using data to increase quality of life for all.
  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
  • Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.

Here in Vermont grantees include:

Town of Bennington, Office of Community Development, — $17,990. 

Following a mini grant from AARP Vermont last year, this substantial new grant will fund continued improvements in a long neglected park in one of Bennington’s residential neighborhoods. The Stark Street Park project objective is to revitalize the park as an outdoor recreation destination and community gathering place that reaches across generations. The project will provide a safe, accessible space for seniors, adults, and children to enjoy free outdoor recreational activities by enhancing trail-based outdoor recreation for the community. Creating a new ADaccessible walking loop at Stark Street Park will connect to a larger network of hiking trails. This loop will add a critical inter-generational component.

City of Newport, Vermont — $24,172.35

The Prouty Beach Connector project will contribute Newport’s development of an outdoor recreational economy. By connecting two established segments of recreational trails, this trail will form a 7-mile waterfront recreational corridor that will connect downtown Newport to the Canadian border where it will link to a series of high-use recreational trails. This recreational corridor will increase pedestrian and biking traffic into downtown, helping to promote business growth.

“We are very pleased to direct resources to these projects as a way to support and encourage local community development initiatives aimed at creating more livable, engaging and healthy communities,” said Kelly Stoddard-Poor, community outreach director at AARP Vermont. “There were a number of really exciting proposals to consider this year and it was a difficult selection process,” she said. “We look forward to watching these projects come to fruition.”

Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President, Community, State and National Affairs stressed the broad scope of this nationwide initiative. “AARP has teams on the ground in communities across the country who hear from mayors, community leaders and local residents about the value of getting quick wins to create long-term change. We developed the Community Challenge grant program to answer that call and help build momentum for more livable communities nationwide.”

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative which helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. As part of this, AARP staff and volunteers are working across the country, engaging and mobilizing residents, delivering technical assistance and expertise to local leaders and organizations, and supporting the work of the 381 communities and four states that have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities The full list of grantees can be found at


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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 and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to 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 or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.