Detroit and Lansing projects win AARP Community Challenge Grants

Local shuttle service and bike repair station among nationwide awardees

 LANSING, MI AARP announced today the awardees for its 2019 AARP Community Challenge grant program, including two innovative recipients in Michigan.  

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.

The IXR Mobility Project in Detroit will receive a $25,000 grant for development of an autonomous shuttle service for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. Transportation would be on demand at low cost for the purpose of getting people to medical appointments, pharmacy visits, banking, community shopping and other locations as needed.

The goal is to deploy a full electric autonomous shuttle that will have an on-board safety driver with an additional attendant to assist seniors with accessing the shuttle including providing door-to door assistance. This project is the first introduction of mobile technology for building trust among the senior population. The $25,000 is a quarter of a $100,000 match.

The Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing will be awarded a $2,800 grant to install a bike repair station in Hunter Park. The 13-acre City of Lansing Park sits on E. Kalamazoo Street–the major east-west bicycling route between downtown Lansing and the State Capital and East Lansing, home of Michigan State University.

Bicycling is an activity that is open to people of all ages including seniors. Cycling is good for aging bodies as it improves the cardiovascular system and keeps hearts healthy.

“We are pleased to provide some help to two worthy transportation projects in Michigan that are intended to increase connectivity and improve the lives of older adults and others in our state,” said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP Michigan.

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 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.

The full list of grantees can be found at

“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,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President, Community, State and National Affairs. “This year, we are proud to fund more projects in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”

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 

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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.


July 17, 2019


Mark Hornbeck

AARP Michigan

(517) 267-8935