AARP Awards Community Challenge Grant to the City of Columbia

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AARP Awards Community Challenge Grant to the City of Columbia

The grant will be used to incorporate socially-distanced public dining space and public art in the downtown area.

(Columbia, SC) The City of Columbia has been named a recipient of a 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of five grantees selected in South Carolina.

The grant will be used to create vibrant outdoor dining space in the downtown area, that will support local business by allowing socially-distanced dining and showcase public art.

We are so excited to have this opportunity to create Columbia’s first parklet, building on the momentum of our vibrant Main Street district. Navigating the pandemic has made us consider public space differently, but it has also reinforced the importance of coming together in creative ways. We hope this will provide an example of how we can rethink parts of our City as flexible spaces that can shift to accommodate different needs over time.

This project is part of the largest number of Community Challenge grants to date with more than $2.4 million awarded among 184 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement “quick-action” projects to create more livable communities across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All projects are expected to be completed by December 18, 2020, and are designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets.
  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices.
  • Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions.
  • Increase civic engagement and demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by bringing together local leaders and residents from all backgrounds to address challenges.
  • Support coronavirus response and recovery efforts by ensuring older adults’ access to information, essential services, and civic life.

“We are incredibly excited to support The City of Columbia as they work to make immediate improvements in Columbia, encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,” shared Teresa Arnold, State Director. “Our goal at AARP South Carolina is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities and the coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the importance of this work.”

Other South Carolina grantees include, the City of Myrtle Beach, Greenville County Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, Mill Community Ministries in Greenville County and the Town of Summerton. The full list of grantees can be found at

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. View an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP South Carolina’s livable communities work 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.


The City of Columbia Planning Division is actively involved in promoting accessible, pedestrian friendly environments for all City residents. Planning staff have been part of the Mayor’s Age-Friendly Cities Advisory Council since 2017 and have facilitated an annual Park(ing) Day event since 2015.

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