Biden-Harris Administration Launches $80 Million Program for Energy Upgrades in Public Schools

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $6 Million Investment to Train the Next Generation of Clean Energy Innovators
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. © AP

Through the U.S. Department of Energy, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that applications are open for the Renew America’s Schools grant program.  This initial funding round, up to $80 million of the $500 million program, is available to public schools to perform energy improvements in the highest-need K-12 districts across the country. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, school facilities are the second-largest sector of public infrastructure spending, yet school buildings are consistently reported as aging, unhealthy and inefficient. The Renew America’s Schools program is a first-of-its-kind investment made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as part of the Administration’s broader Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure. The program will help create healthier learning environments, lower utility costs and redirect funds to support students and teachers 

“By making our students’ learning environments healthier with these critical energy improvements, our children will be better able to reach their full potential in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is working diligently to deploy these critical funds so that schools can start turning infrastructure improvements into healthier learning environments and big cost savings, as soon as possible.”  

The Renew America’s Schools grant program will support the implementation of infrastructure improvements in schools, with a focus on local education agencies (LEAs) that qualify as rural and/or high poverty. Eligible projects can include a variety of energy improvements, including new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The deadline for applicant concept papers is January 26, 2023 and full applications are due April 21, 2023. 

With the Renew America’s Schools grant program, DOE launched a $4.5 million prize program, Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools (Energy CLASS Prize). This competitive program will support up to 25 high-need LEAs by providing a $100,000 cash award to winners to build the workforce through training and the staffing of energy management positions. Through the Energy CLASS Prize, energy managers will learn to identify, implement, and maintain projects that will improve health and efficiency in their districts. At the conclusion of the program’s first year, participating LEAs can submit a progress report and – based on performance – may qualify for an additional $50,000. Applications for the Energy CLASS Prize are open now through February 28, 2023.    

For more information on the program and prize, visit DOE’s Schools Energy Improvements webpage.