DOE provides $178 million to schools to lower energy costs and emissions

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The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced the first round of schools selected to receive funding from the Renew America’s Schools grant program, a competitive award that will support the implementation of energy improvements in K–12 schools across the U.S.

The $178 million in funding will directly benefit 74,000 students and 5,000 teachers in 97 school buildings across the country by enabling them to pursue projects that will lower energy costs, lower emissions and create healthier, safer and more supportive learning environments in their schools.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is demonstrating scalable and replicable clean energy models that will create healthier and safer K-12 schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

DOE more than doubled the funding for Round 1 of the competition from $80 million to $178 million, due to the number of applications received and the needs expressed. Applications were received from Local Education Agencies (LEAs) from 48 states and two territories. A total of over 1,000 concept papers were received, with a total request of nearly $5.5 billion in requests.

Nearly half of the applications received were from schools in DOE-identified Disadvantaged Communities (DACs), 95% were schools that qualified for Title 1 Schoolwide Programming, 73% included schools in which over 50% of the student population qualified for Free, and Reduced-Price lunch, and 45% included schools in a rural locale.

DOE selected 24 applicants that demonstrated significant technical merit and responsiveness to the goals of the funding opportunity. Many of those selected (42%) indicated that they plan to install solar modules and batteries; 13% plan to install “alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure”.

Part of the application process was to identify the community benefits, and all recipients have committed to specific economic and environmental benefits to their communities. Five of the projects selected, for example, are on Tribal lands, two include commitments to offer construction jobs first to Tribal members, and one commits to prioritizing apprenticeship opportunities for local youth.

More than half of the projects selected made commitments to work with labor unions, and with union-affiliated apprenticeship programs, to ensure that construction, operations and maintenance jobs pay a family-supporting wage and include strong health and safety standards, while also providing opportunities to women, veterans, tribes, and workers of color. Nearly every project includes a commitment to tying career technical education programs within the schools to job opportunities on the project, providing an entryway for students into high quality jobs in the construction trades.

Local Education Agencies selected for Renew America’s Schools Grant: Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria, VA

  • Austin Independent School District, Austin, Texas
  • Baltimore County Public Schools, Windsor Mill, Md.
  • Bridgeport Public Schools (in partnership with University of Connecticut), Bridgeport, Conn.
  • Cass Lake-Bena Public Schools (in partnership with Region Five Development Commission), Cass Lake, Minn.
  • Charlo School District, Charlo, Mont.
  • Choctaw County School District, Weir, Miss.
  • Clinton School District, Clinton, Ark.
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Greenup County School District, Greenup, Ky.
  • Jefferson County School District, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Kane County School District, Kanab, Utah
  • Matchbook Learning Centers, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Memphis-Shelby County Schools, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Natick Public Schools, Natick, Mass.
  • North Wasco County School District 21, Mosier, Ore.
  • Nottoway County Public Schools, Blackstone, Va.
  • Porterville Unified School District, Porterville, Calif.
  • St. Maries School District #41, Saint Maries, Idaho
  • Warner Public Schools Oklahoma, Warner, Okla.
  • White River School District 47-1, White River, S.D.
  • William Penn School District, Yeadon, Pa.
  • Williamsfield Schools (CUSD #210) and 19 LEAs, Williamsfield, Ill.
  • Winnett Public School District #1, Winnett, Mo.

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