August 31, 2020

Erik Kriss,, 518-360-9213

MaryLiz Stewart,, (518) 621-7793

AARP Awards Community Challenge Grant to Underground Railroad Education Center

The grant will be used to provide the foundation of our new”Sow We Grow” Year-Round Accessible Indoor Intergenerational Food Gardening Project at our Historic Site and Community Gardens

August 20, 2020 – Underground Railroad Education Center has been named a recipient of a 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of six grantees selected in New York.

“Not everything that grows in a garden is green.” This grant will be used as the foundation of our Sow We Grow program, including the building of a year-round greenhouse structure with accessible food gardens, benches, and lighting as well as to develop our intergenerational gardening program. This unique project will enable us to grow food and our community by providing recreational space and the opportunity to grow fresh produce for seniors living in the Arbor Hill area. This will measurably improve the livability of our neighborhood and will allow us to expand our community Environmental Justice initiatives while providing the many well-documented benefits of intergenerational gardening for both our seniors and teen participants.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity provided by AARP to bring together our community seniors and teens around a sustainable, year-round gardening project,” say cofounders Paul and Mary Liz Stewart. ”Following in the footsteps of our local Underground Railroad abolitionists, our seniors and teens will take meaningful action to help the community.”

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 Underground Railroad Education Center as they work to make immediate improvements in Albany, encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,” shared Beth Finkel AARP NY State Director. “Our goal at AARP NY 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 New York grantees include the United Way of the Dutchess Orange region, Friends of Mosholu Parkland in the Bronx, LISC of Western New York, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Preservation Buffalo Niagara in Buffalo. 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 NY’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.


Learn the past. Be the present. Create the future.®  The mission of Underground Railroad Education Center is to research and preserve the local and national history of the Underground Railroad movement, its international connections, and its legacy to later struggles, empowering people of all ages to be agents of change toward an equitable and just society. Underground Railroad Education Center (UREC) is a non-profit organization that seeks, in part:

  • To promote and encourage knowledge and understanding of the Underground Railroad Movement and its genesis and legacy in the Capital Region and in New York State, and as a significant element of the history of the United States
  • To place the Underground Railroad movement in its proper context as the first civil rights movement, and as part of the ongoing struggle for equity, freedom, and justice.

Since its incorporation in 2003, this effort has created a strong program of education and research that celebrates and preserves the story of the Underground Railroad in Albany and the Capital Region and its relationship with us today. UREC has identified the key primary and secondary figures and their activities, and has developed a general outline of the local history of the movement.

UREC is located in the former residence of Stephen and Harriet Myers, in the heart of historic Arbor Hill at 194 Livingston Avenue in Albany, NY.  An outstanding artifact of the Anti-slavery and Underground Railroad period, the Residence reflects Underground Railroad history from the perspective of Stephen Myers as a man enslaved in NYS and from the perspective of Black abolitionists. Stephen and Harriet Myers, who lived in this building in the mid-1850’s, were the central Underground Railroad activists in the Capital Region. 

Please visit our website at for a full description of our activities and mission.