SCEP Schools Program graphic

 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the $500 million Renew America’s Schools Program to promote the implementation of clean energy improvements at K-12 public schools across the country. This first-of-its-kind investment, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), aims to help school communities make energy upgrades that will lower utilities costs, improve indoor air quality, and foster healthier learning environments. 

The Renew America’s Schools grant is the program’s flagship funding opportunity. This competitive award focuses on funding infrastructure upgrades at K–12 public school facilities, prioritizing high-need school communities. The first round of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) launched in November 2022. DOE anticipates opening a second round of applications for the Renew America's Schools grant in Spring 2024.

Opportunity!

Sign up for our webinar, "All about Energy: Tools and Resources for Schools," March 12 at 3PM ET

Join our joint webinar with the Loan Program Office, "Loan Strategies for School Energy Improvements, Part I," March 20 at 1PM ET

Questions?

Contact us at schools@doe.gov.

Spotlighted Questions

Yes!  Applications will be open to all eligible entities, regardless of past participation.  

Yes!  DOE anticipates opening a second round of applications for the Renew America's Schools grant in the spring of 2024.  

The Renew America's Schools grant supports the implementation of energy improvements at K-12 public schools, including both traditional and charter schools.  Private schools are not eligible.

Local education associations (LEAs) play an essential role in the application and project implementation process; for this reason, any team applying for the Renew America's Schools grant must include an LEA. However, out of recognition that successful projects can come out of a variety of teaming partnerships, eligible entities are not limited to LEAs.  Per the 2022 FOA provision language authorizing this funding opportunity:  

"The term "eligible entity" means a consortium of--(A) 1 local educational agency; and (B) 1 or more--(i) schools; (ii) nonprofit organizations that have the knowledge and capacity to partner and assist with energy improvements; (iii) for-profit organizations that have the knowledge and capacity to partner and assist with energy improvements; or (iv) community partners that have the knowledge and capacity to partner and assist with energy improvements."

Partner organizations may apply as prime recipients on behalf of an LEA, as long as their partnership with that LEA is clearly established and defined. Section III.A.i of the 2022 FOA specifies: the proposed prime recipient and subrecipient(s) must be domestic entities. The following types of domestic entities are eligible to participate as a prime recipient or subrecipient of this FOA: institutions of higher education; for-profit entities; non-profit entities; and state and local governmental entities, and tribal nations (Section III.A.i). 

Teaming Partner List

There is vast interest and opportunity for collaboration between school districts and industry experts willing to support them in meeting their energy goals. To facilitate such partnerships, and to help school stakeholders in the Renew America’s Schools Program, the Efficient and Healthy Schools Program, the ESPC Campaign, and the Better Buildings/Better Climate Challenge connect and communicate, DOE is compiling a Teaming Partner List. Join the Teaming Partner List to let prospective partners know you are interested in working together. Please note that this is not an application for any DOE programs or campaigns.

View the current Teaming Partner List:

Tools

School Needs and Benefits Assessment Resources
A compiled list of resources to support development of a baseline energy needs assessment. The tutorial video below demonstrates how DOE's resources may be combined to develop a baseline energy needs assessment.

Energy Justice Mapping Tool for Schools
A tool to explore and produce reports for individual school facilities based on several metrics.

Renew America's Schools Grant: Round 1 Selectees

Selectees were announced on June 29, 2023. Due to high demand and overwhelming evidence of public need, DOE more than doubled the funding for Round 1 of the competition, from $80 million to $178 million. Local Education Agencies will now move through the award process to implement the building improvement projects they proposed, to bring cleaner air, better lighting, and more occupancy comfort to their facilities.

Renew America’s Schools Grant

Register for our Webinar, "All about Energy: Tools and Resources for Schools," on Tuesday, March 12 at 3PM ET:

This webinar will highlight how K-12 schools can use freely-available resources to pursue energy improvement projects. From identifying energy savings opportunities to estimating costs and more, these tools and resources can help school leaders develop strategic plans to lower energy costs and create safer, healthier learning environments. DOE will also share information on recent updates to the tools.

 

Register for our joint webinar with the Loan Programs Office (LPO), "Loan Strategies for School Energy Improvements: Part 1," on Wednesday, March 20 at 1PM ET:

This webinar will provide information about loan strategies applicable to school energy improvements. State and local leaders, school champions and partners, and organizations interested in learning more about LPO are invited to tune in for this info session.  

  • Through the State Energy Financing Institution (SEFI)-Supported category of the Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program, LPO can augment state-administered clean energy programs, providing additional financial support to projects that align federal energy priorities with those of U.S. states. SEFI-Supported projects do not have a technology innovation requirement, so the authority expands eligibility for LPO financing to include certain projects that incorporate commercial technologies or aggregate technology-diverse projects and that receive meaningful financial support or credit enhancements from a SEFI.  This means that, through the Clean Energy Financing Program, LPO can provide loan guarantees for clean energy deployment projects, including renewables and efficiency, as well as clean transportation. 

 

Watch our Power of Partnerships Webinar!

This webinar highlights different partnership models that can help school districts move forward making energy improvements. It provides examples of community-based partnerships, as well as partnerships with energy service companies, universities, and utilities. Learn what has worked well for school districts across the country engaging with these different types of partners.

  • Read the slides.
  • What this webinar covers:
    • DOE Opportunities for Energy Improvements in K-12 Schools
    • The Power of Partnerships
    • School Districts & their Partners
    • Resources and Announcements.

The Department of Energy announced selections for Round 1 of the Renew America's Schools grant on June 29, 2023.   

DOE anticipates opening a second round of applications in the spring of 2024.

Eligible projects include energy infrastructure improvements that reduce building operating costs—like new HVAC and ventilation systems, building envelope and lighting projects, and renewable energy technologies. Funding is also available for alternative fueled vehicles and alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure.

Energy CLASS Prize

In tandem with the Renew America’s Schools grant, DOE launched a $4.5 million prize called the Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools Prize (Energy CLASS Prize). This two-phase, competitive award aims to support some of the nation’s highest-need K–12 schools by establishing, training, and supporting energy managers—or champions—in their districts. On May 5, 2023, DOE announced 25 Winners who will each receive $100,000 and gain access to the Energy CLASS Prize Training Network. 

Related Resources

Federal School Programs

Efficient and Healthy Schools Program
A national program aimed at engaging K-12 schools to reduce energy costs and improve energy performance and indoor air quality.

Better Buildings Initiative Resource for K-12 School Districts
An initiative that partners with leaders in many sectors, including school districts, to make the nation's buildings more energy efficient by accelerating investments and sharing successful best practices.

Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) Campaign
The Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) Campaign engages public sector building owners across the municipal and state governments, universities and colleges, schools, and hospitals (MUSH) market and other market stakeholders to expand and enhance the use of ESPC to achieve significant energy, environmental, and cost savings benefits. The goal is for participants to collectively achieve $1 billion in measured and verified savings by 2030.  

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Healthy School Environments
EPA provides funding and learning opportunities on key issues related to enhancing healthy school environments.  

U.S. Department of Education (ED) School Infrastructure Programs (SIP)
ED has developed two new grant programs that address school infrastructure needs and challenges across the country. 

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) resources explaining Elective pay and transferability
Learn more about how tax-exempt and governmental entities can benefit from clean energy tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act.  

Financing Resources

Financing Efficient and Healthy Retrofits
A resource for more information on solutions to access capital and finance energy efficiency projects in schools.

BIL Provision 40541

Office:

State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP)

New Program:

Yes

Funding amount:

$500,000,000

Funding Mechanism:

Grant

Recipients:

Consortium of One Local Education Agency and one or more Schools, Non-Profits, For-Profits, and Community Partners

Period of Availability:

Available until expended
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Learn More About the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law