Campus News

UK Selected as 2022 AARP Kentucky Community Challenge Grantee

volunteers standing together beside their latest development project
UK Health Sciences professor Patrick Kitzman with a group of Perry Co. High School students who recently refurbished a local park thanks to the CARAT-TOP program.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 12, 2022) — AARP Kentucky is proud to announce that the University of Kentucky has been selected to receive a 2022 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of six grantees chosen statewide.

The $8,305 grant will provide new workbenches, a 3D printer, pipe benders and a drill press to bolster a program in which volunteers refurbish used medical equipment and adapt toys to aid people with disabilities at the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard, Kentucky.

“AARP grant funding will support CARAT-TOP (Coordinating and Assisting the Reuse of Assistive Technology – Together One Priory) Intergenerational Service Learning Program. This program brings together high school students and retired community members in Perry County in Eastern Kentucky to refurbish and reutilize used durable medical equipment, like wheelchairs, walker, bath benches, and assistive technology. The grant is providing funding for equipment for our new ‘maker space’ that will allow us to not only fix used equipment, but also adapt the equipment for the individual users, and prototype new parts,” said Patrick Kitzman, Ph.D., UK College of Health Sciences professor of physical therapy and director of Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network (KARRN).

This project is part of the largest group of grantees to date with $3.4 million awarded among 260 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable in the long-term by improving public places, transportation, housing, diversity, equity and inclusion, digital access and civic engagement with an emphasis on the needs of adults aged 50 and over.

With this grantee class, AARP is bolstering its investment of affordable and adaptable housing solutions in response to the national housing crisis. With additional funding support from Toyota Motor North America, the program is also increasing its support of projects that improve mobility innovation and transportation options.

All projects are expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2022, 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.
  • Ensure a focus on diversity and inclusion while improving the built and social environment of a community.
  • Support communities’ efforts to build engagement and leverage funding available under new federal programs through laws including the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and more.
  • Increase Civic Engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of inclusion.
  • Other community improvements, including health services, community development and coronavirus pandemic recovery.

“We are incredibly excited to support CARAT-TOP as they work to make immediate improvements, encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change in Appalachia,” said Charlotte Whittaker, AARP Kentucky volunteer state president. “Our goal at AARP Kentucky is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.”

Since 2017, AARP Kentucky has awarded 24 grants and $256,500 through the program to nonprofit organizations and government entities across the state. The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages. View the full list of grantees and their project descriptions at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge and learn more about AARP’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.