LA CROSSE, WI – A proposal by Downtown Mainstreet Inc. to decorate dozens of planters in downtown La Crosse with colorful public art pieces has been selected to receive an AARP Wisconsin “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant.

Currently, the 91 planters located throughout the downtown include colorful summer flowers and foliage. Using the $1,000 grant from AARP Wisconsin, Downtown Mainstreet will continue a project that calls for paying local artists for their time and materials to decorate the planters with mostly mosaic or clay pieces in an effort to add color and warmth to the downtown area.

“We are so appreciative of the support AARP is providing us to beautify the downtown business district,” said Terry Bauer, Executive Director of Downtown Mainstreet, after learning the project had been awarded the grant.

Five planters located on Main and Fourth Streets have already been decorated, with several more waiting in the wings. “Our hope is to get maybe 20 to 25 of them done this year,” said Bauer, who plans to keep extending the project over time to include as many of the 91 planters as they can get to.

Bauer said the feedback from the community so far has been all positive. “They are really noticeable. People are enjoying them and rallying behind the project.”

Small Dollar, Big Impact grants are being awarded once a month throughout the year to projects across Wisconsin that are designed to improve communities and make them better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age. Judges selected this project for a grant after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted from all over the state.

“This project fits perfectly with the spirit and intent of the grant program, said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson. “Our goal is to support communities as they make positive changes that inspire long-term progress on livable issues. This project hits that nail right on the head.”

AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020 and is now in its second year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural and urban parts of the state. All projects are expected to be completed within 60 days of the winner announcement.

“These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost solutions that could have remarkable impacts on the shaping of neighborhoods and cities,” said Darrin Wasniewski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach for AARP Wisconsin.

“There are so many great ideas and proposals for making life better in communities across Wisconsin. We know how impactful $1,000 can be. This is our way of extending some seed money to get these projects off the ground.”

The grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities. For more information on the program, visit

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