February is Black History Month, and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) acknowledges the racial inequities that continue to plague the nation, including within our energy systems and research. To increase equity in the energy space, DOE is increasing engagement and partnering with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

HBCUs are accredited higher-education institutions established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to educate African American students. The first HBCUs were founded in Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 1800s, before the American Civil War, to educate college-age Black students who were prohibited from attending established colleges and universities due to racial discrimination. There are 101 HBCUs as of 2020.

Diversity in STEM and Support for HBCUs and MSIs

DOE supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and energy literacy, and works to ensure that underrepresented and underserved students have equal learning and career opportunities. Over the past year, DOE has increased recruiting for clean energy jobs at national minority-based recruiting events, including conferences for Black Engineer of the Year and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science, with plans to attend more in 2023.

DOE has also created partnerships with HBCUs and MSIs to provide opportunities for funding, experiential learning, training, and research grants.

  • In February 2022, DOE announced plans to provide $1.5 million for new grants to colleges and universities that are underrepresented in DOE's investments to foster development of climate, Earth, and environmental science research and training capacity.
  • In April 2022, DOE released its first-ever inaugural Equity Action Plan and committed up to $102 million for HBCUs and other MSIs as foundations for world-class talent in STEM.
  • In December 2022, DOE announced $32 million in research opportunities to support historically underrepresented groups in STEM through internships, training programs, and mentor opportunities at five HBCUs and 32 other MSIs and research institutions.

EERE and HBCU Engagement

EERE’s technology offices are working to increase HBCU participation in research and development. Recent actions include:

Funding Opportunities


Fellowships, Internships, and More

The Building Technologies Office is participating in the following programs:

Both SETO and The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) participate in GEM and MEISPP. HFTO also participates in the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through HBCUs, which aims to help eliminate barriers HBCUs face in providing the highest-quality education to a growing number of students.

DOE will continue to work on bridging the gap in the clean energy space to increase opportunities for and engagement with HBCUs and MSIs.

Learn about DOE's Minority Educational Institutions Division and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.